Thursday, September 24, 2015

Some objective advice for authors...

Being on social media is obviously bittersweet. We see a lot of good things, and also a lot of bad things. There are a few consistent complaints that I see, though. I'd like to address them from an objective perspective. I've been on both sides of the line, so I feel like I'm qualified to make these points.

First of all... To all those authors who complain about other authors "not being friendly" or "thinking they are too good for you." Let me just say you are making a very brazen snap judgement. I understand you may have had your feelings hurt one way or another--not getting the return message you wanted, not having an author share your work like you've been sharing theirs, or not being accepted into a signing event because you're not well known enough; the list can go on. But perhaps you need to go through some of the issues other authors have had to go through to get where they're at before you give these opinions.

Most authors have had to start as a nobody. We all spend countless hours writing and proofing and marketing and networking...on top of the rest of our lives that deal with families and other jobs. It's a process. It can take some time. I work my ass off. I care about the quality of everything I do. Some days I feel like I should be further than I am, and other days I just don't care and go my own pace. I'm where I'm at, I worked hard to get here, and I've never expected anyone to give me an easy ride. I've been shit on repeatedly, it's a given, but you take notes and move on. Bad mouthing another author for not doing a "share-for-a-share" is just ridiculous. I share what I can, give shout outs where necessary, and try to thank everyone who has taken the time to support me. It is impossible to return every single favor. IMPOSSIBLE. So with that in mind, maybe just pay it forward instead? In return, you'll be a recipient of someone's unexpected generosity later on. We're all in this together; we can pick up the slack for each other when we're able to. I'll admit that I used to share and support a few different authors consistently and don't anymore. It's for a few reasons, but I don't need to bad mouth them or point out how they are too busy to return the favor. So much gets lost in the chaos, and when your readership grows, these authors have a lot more to keep up with. Don't punish them for that. Most, if not all, are humble enough to appreciate everyone who supports them and they don't deliberately ignore you just to make you feel bad. No one has time for that. It's just a matter of balance, and sometimes it is just too overwhelming to spend six hours a day responding to everyone. I truly believe that you get back what you give. Maybe not instantly, but at some point you will be glad you supported your fellow authors instead of jealously tearing them down.

Another issue I'd like to address is your relationship with others within this industry. If you know me, you know how much I shout about integrity, honesty, and professional courtesy (if not, see my other blog entries). It is a fact you'll be screwed over now and then, but I advise you to keep that chin up and not stoop to that cutthroat level. Harmony in an industry you love is AMAZING. No, it will never be perfect. But the harder we work to polish our behavior and the way we deal with others, the more content we will be about our own results. I do not measure my success fiscally; I measure it by how comfortable I am with my actions and the people around me. A sales number validates me in some ways, but the way others regard me as a person is far more important to me. How we treat each other says a lot about our character. I try my best to be helpful when new authors ask for my advice. I've never ignored a single person who has come to me for my help. I don't know how useful I actually am in that aspect, but I'm willing to share what I know. I didn't know a single person in this industry when I published my first books. I didn't build a facebook page and gather friends in hopes they'll support my book when it releases. I didn't even have a facebook page when I published a few years ago. I taught myself how to publish, I taught myself how to format (omg that was horrendous) and I taught myself how to design my book covers. I didn't have a network of people to ask. I had to build that for myself a couple years later.

Those relationships are hard. It's difficult to find people you can trust but also work well with. My advice is to be choosy with whom you spend your time with. Find business friends who are honest because that is so essential in this industry. It truly is tough, though. You'll have to go through a lot of bullshit as you search for these people. You'll be hurt, you'll be deceived, and you'll question your own decisions. But remember that YOU have control over who you keep close  in the end. Listen to your instincts. People who are straightforward, sometimes telling you honest things you don't really want to hear, are the ones who are doing you a favor. You don't need your ass kissed, you need to be supported one hundred percent and that sometimes involves hearing the truth. I really dislike being honest sometimes when I'm asked my opinion, but I wouldn't be helping you at all if I just told you what you want to hear. Choose well-rounded business friends; ones you know want what is best for YOU. And if you're reaching out, asking authors for advice...don't take their kindness for granted. Unless an author gives you the go-ahead to contact them any time you want if you need help, be mindful of their time. Sometimes those authors who seem "unfriendly" have really just been taken advantage of so many times, they need to give themselves a break. When you are used or deceived by people, you tend to shy away and aren't as willing to open yourself up for others as much. I'm not saying this is true for all, but for many of us, we are juggling so many things right now we don't even know what those things are sometimes.

One last piece of advice for authors... Write what you want to write. Don't let fads and popular opinion sway your creativity. You know why? Because you want to be happy with what you've produced, and what better way to do that then to allow your individuality to be free. Fads come and go and they always will. Just watch the flux of book genres and topics and cover styles and you'll realize this. Don't jump on a bandwagon because most likely it's already too full. Hitch your own wagon and take your own ride YOUR way.

I have a lot of love for what I do. I'm sure I will always continue to write. As of now though, I've been taking a break. I got burnt out because of some individuals who I let dull my sparkle. It's not that I'm weak and can't take a beating, but sometimes too much is too much and stepping away is what you need. I'm recouping and regrouping. Sometimes it's necessary in order to come back stronger. I don't consider getting knocked down a failure, though. I consider it a stepping stone for learning. How I come back from it is what's important. That's how I measure character. People will hurt you, disappoint you, and deceive you, but how you deal with it says a lot about who you are. I forgive, no one is perfect, but I'll still be cautious. I love my readers who are now my friends. I'm always there for any of them. I focus on doing my best work so I can make myself happy, but I truly treasure their happiness too. When I get messages like some of the ones I've gotten about my books this year...messages that tell me how much I've impacted their life or how much they could relate to what I wrote...there is no better reward than that. One message or one thousand, it doesn't matter.

Thank you to those who maintain your high standards, even when it's hard. You'll be happy you did. Be accountable for yourself and your actions; you'll find it pays off better in the long run <3


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

You will be screwed over ... It's a fact

It's not a secret that I don't sleep much. It's a mix of reasons, really, but sometimes my brain never takes a rest. The worst nights are when I'm stressing out about something I have no control over, and even though I know there's nothing I can do, I worry about every little thing anyway. There has been a lot of weight on my shoulders lately, and for once in my life, it's ninety percent work related. The burden shouldn't be there, so I'm ready to remove it.

The book industry has gradually fucked up my sleep even more, and sadly, it's difficult to admit that something that used to be a hobby to me, something that I used to enjoy, has caused so much negativity in my life within this past year. Along with that, I've also experienced some of my happiest moments, so I can't say it has all been a waste. It's kind of a bittersweet situation.

These last few months especially have taught me the most. Sometimes all you want to do is trust everyone, and all you learn is that you can trust no one. You put your faith in people you believe are worth your time only to have your time wasted from being used, manipulated, or disrespected. You say what you mean and mean what you say when others will pussyfoot around, tell you what you want to hear, or straight up lie to your face. Then there's my favorite... You refuse to step foot in circles of gossip or the tearing down of others... only to be the one that is unfairly slandered.

Am I whining? Nope. It's just a harsh reality. The more visible you are to others, the more often you will be ripped apart. It's true that those doing the harm are the ones that need the most help and guidance, and even though I'm more than happy to forgive and move on because I feel it's the right thing to do, there is still a lot of aftermath that needs to be dealt with. I don't have the time to deal with it. I'll say that right now. I don't want to deal with your petty bullshit and ridiculous behavior. I know who I am and what I stand for, and I know I'm better than that. My time is valuable and I'd rather use it on things that matter. I genuinely care about people and how I make them feel, and if I knew I had hurt someone or done them wrong, I would not be okay with that.

With that being said, I also feel it's in my best interest to step away from the time wasters; to avoid people who have poor business standards and even worse personal ethics. If your top priority is knowing what everyone is doing, wishing ill will on others, or intentionally trying to hurt someone...then just step away from me. I feel those good and bad vibes, it's usually not hard to figure out, but the chances end at some point. I'm a pretty tolerant person--it's why I carry so much stress, trying to figure it all out and make everyone happy. I have a longer line than most, but I'm at the end of it. Sorry, but it's done. I guess higher powers can sort out the devils in disguise, and hopefully not too many people get hurt in the process. If so, then it's a lesson to learn like the rest of us have gone through.

You're probably wondering what the hell is up to post all of this. Well, quite a lot. It has just accumulated over time. But for the most part, I'm extremely disappointed in the way some things have turned out lately, and even more disappointed in the people involved. If you follow along with some of my posts and announcements on social media, you probably have an idea. I have no problem with some of the business changes I have made and will still be making because like I said... my time is worth more than the garbage I've been getting in return. I love writing, but I definitely don't do it for the attention.

I also don't need to work with those that do. I don't care if you have a mass following of fans or if you think you're fucking facebook famous. I honestly couldn't care less. What I do care about is that small circle of fantastic people that are genuine and would drop what they are doing to help a fellow human being. I've met some amazing readers and authors in this industry that would do just that, and to be honest, I admire and respect them more than anyone. I witness it in the music industry too. There are those that flaunt for show and there are those that just DO because they want to. There's a difference. "Character is what you do when no one is watching."

I'm a people person. I love to get to know others. I'm somewhat reserved until you get to know me, but I am truly interested in lives besides my own. I just want all of you to know that you're just fine. You will be hurt, taken advantage of, used, gossiped about, disrespected, screwed over, judged, dismissed, stepped on and then some. There are some harsh realities out there. But you are also loving, appreciative, giving, respectful, wise, forgiving, compassionate, and NEEDED. You are what keeps this world balanced. Without that positive contribution, we would be swimming in a fathomless sea of despair. So keep standing tall. Don't get sucked into that shit pot that people like to add to. You have the power to walk away from people that are self-serving and undeserving of your time. Be a good example because maybe they need it, but you don't have to be pulled down with them.