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Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Biggest Block to an Indie Writer's Success

Clyo Beck

When you first conceived of your book, it was so exciting. In the creative flow, you probably told yourself that you would have no trouble getting it published because what was coming through was so darned good. It would be a gift to the world.

What you didn't tell yourself was that editing and preparing it for publication would be easy. Or fun. Or cheap. You didn't affirm that you would connect with the perfect publishing platform because you weren't at all sure that you would. Neither did you jump up and down with joy at the thought of marketing your book.

In fact, as you recall the process you went through, you may realize that, at times, you felt almost apologetic about writing a book. Sometimes you couldn't tell if your writing was brilliant or a bunch of poop. Doubts about yourself and the value of your writing kicked in. Who were you to be so audacious? Who were you to expect to be published? Who were you to make money when so many other writers don't make a dime?   

Yet, we're in an Indie revolution; so you decided that you would self-publish. After all, who has time to deal with the endless submissions and rejections associated with traditional publishing? Who wants to play the Catch-22 game of "you must have an agent to get published, but you must be published to get an agent." Besides, how hard could it be to publish a book yourself?

With the desire to write so fervent within your soul, you had no choice but to keep writing, and it was exhilarating. As idea after idea came to you, and as the pieces of the puzzle that was your book came together, you felt on fire. This had to be your higher guidance kicking in, right? You had to be writing for an audience who really needed—and would love—what you offered…right? Your book would just have to sell…right?

But then that inner doubter—the one embedded in you when you were a little kid—started circling you, like a vulture. While it couldn't stop the flow of inspiration coming through, it started to sabotage you. The result is that you started to doubt yourself and everything about your process. Then things started to snowball. You signed a contract with a print-on-demand publisher before your book was finished. You found yourself facing a deadline you had to meet or you'd forfeit your deposit.

As a result, you didn't have time to take your chapters to a critique group or read through your book out loud. Tired of trying to figure out whether your writing was good enough or not—and in a panic to get your book up and just be done with it so you could try and recoup the money you were investing in self-publishing—you decided you could do without a professional edit.

After all, what could it hurt? You can write, right? And, besides, these are your words. Why do they have to be edited? Why can't they stand as you first wrote them? Isn't that what will make your book unique? What can anyone else possibly add to what has emerged from you? And how dare they think to subtract anything? Besides, editors are too darn expensive.

So you rushed yourself into self-publishing with a print-on-demand publisher. The bad news is that your book isn't selling. So you feel sick, and like a failure. You don't even tell people you wrote a book. You're afraid they'll read it and think less of you because, secretly, you're afraid your book is junk and doesn't measure up, especially since you discovered a couple of typos in it. Worse, you are afraid to try again. You are afraid to write another book.

So, what's happening? Wasn't the Indie movement supposed to empower you? Weren't you supposed to be earning your living as an author by now? What's going on?

Why Are You Failing At Your Dream?
You need to heal your beliefs about what you deserve before you put yourself and your work out there, or you'll just be kicked around.

See if this feels true for you:
While, in your heart, it felt like your writing had value as you put words down on the page, your inner critic kept sniping at you. It said what you were writing wouldn't sell. It poked and prodded you, and got you to doubt what you thought was truest in you. You may have even felt some shame about daring to write a book. And that's when that sinking feeling that you were going to fail showed up.   

At that point, if you were like me, you went to a marketing guru to get an opinion about your book. In exchange for the fee, you were told that the general consensus in the publishing industry would be that your book was too "different" and there wasn't a market for it.

Since that was your greatest fear, it made sense to you that you would receive that depressing review. Yet what you might not have realized is that the review you received was a self-fulfilling prophesy. The reviewer was merely reflecting your most deeply held belief.

The Power Of Your Deepest Beliefs
The lesson offered here is this: your deepest beliefs determine your result. This means that your own subconscious belief system, when it's negative, is the biggest block you face as an Indie writer. So, before you put pen to paper again, take a personal inventory of your beliefs. Do you have doubts about your value, or the value of your output? Do you, secretly, think that you cannot write well enough to meet the standards of a traditional publisher?

If so, publishing on the Indie platform is unlikely to get you sales. If you don't believe in your work, that will come through in your writing, in your promotion, in your face, and in every word you utter about your book. Yet, instead of despairing, simply realize that you have inner work to do, and do it. Emotional Freedom Technique is great for this, but explore and find what works for you.

If you have finished your book and received feedback that it's really good, still check in with yourself before you publish it. See whether you have any beliefs or fears that will interfere with book sales. For instance, imagine yourself contacting people to review your book. Then imagine animatedly promoting your book when you talk to people. Can you do? Are you looking forward to it? Or do these ideas make you feel uncomfortable?

If the idea of marketing your book makes you cringe, you have blocks to success that must be cleared. It may be that an inner aspect doesn't value your perspective or your work. If your family struggled with money when you were a child, you might have subconscious blocks to abundance. You might even have energetic blocks to being happy.

If any of this resonates with you, don't put yourself out there again before correcting your core beliefs. You'll only be battered around by the publishing world and ignored by readers. Take the time to clear all self-sabotage and program yourself for success.

How Can An Indie Author Be Successful?
First, realize that writing is an honorable endeavor that requires patience, time, and respect. As Richard Bolles, the author of What Color Is Your Parachute? once told me, "It takes three times longer to do anything than you think it will." He was right; so be prepared to invest the time.

Second, if you feel driven to write a book and it feels like a joyful "calling" then there is an audience for it. You will, however, not connect with that audience until you value your perspective, value your work, believe you have an audience and know you deserve success. So start with healing that part of you that does not believe what you write is of value, or doubts you deserve money for writing. Heal the core beliefs that work against you, including those that would allow you to put an inferior book on the market, and everything else will begin to fall into place.

Third, make sure your book is well-written. Find a critique group and read a chapter of your book to the group each week.  Really listen to the feedback and take notes. Read select pages aloud at open mics and glance out to see whether the audience is fidgeting and longing for escape, falling asleep, or rapt with attention. Tighten your prose and tighten it again, draft after draft. Polish it like gem you intend for someone you love. When you feel you have tightened and polished as much as you can, have your book professionally edited.

If you can't afford an editor, then, at the very least, go through your book and read it out loud, word by word—with your finger beneath each word as you read it—to make sure you have no mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization. Do this because your eye is treacherous. It will skip over all the other letters in a word when the first and last letters of that word are correct. Your brain then "sees" the word that should be there—the one you expect to see—instead of the misspelling that is actually there.  

Fourth, when your book is ready for publication, fling yourself into the arms of Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. It costs nothing, and Amazon has a free book that walks you through the process. Your sales potential is huge and growing bigger as iPhone and e-book sales rise exponentially. Millions of people visit Amazon to search for titles, whether they buy there or not. Given that Amazon's sales and marketing processes are the gold standard for selling books, there's no good reason to start anywhere else. Plus, you have great creative leeway. For instance, if you decide your cover isn't compelling enough, you can switch it and try another one—anytime.

Fifth, after your book is live, solicit reviews. Look at other books in your genre and contact the people who have reviewed those books. When you sign up for KDP Select, you get twenty days a year (five days per quarter) when you can offer your book to reviewers for free. This is something you must use because your success lies in getting good reviews. Until you have fifty or more great reviews for you book (and some say the magic number is 300), do not expect sales to take off. So budget part of your time every week for contacting reviewers. Keep a list of the people who have agreed to review your book. When you have ten people on your list, schedule a free download day and let them know when it is. Persistence will win the race.

Sixth, instead of worrying about why your book isn't selling, start another one. Very few authors have made a living with just one book. So if you are serious about living off your royalties, keep writing. Improve your craft. Build up a body of work.

Seventh, when you have a well-reviewed and good-selling e-book, that's the time to issue a hardbound version, not before.

My Book Is A Flop And I Know It
So what if you published, but those who reviewed your book didn't like it? Or what if, like some Indie publishers, you didn't take your book to a critique group and you published a poorly-edited stinker? What if that is precisely where you are, and you realize your book is never going to sell?

The beauty of KDP is that you can do a rewrite. You can, potentially, make that stinker into something good. Issue it as version two. You can even delete the old title, rename your book, and start over. There's no penalty. There are no deadlines. There are no lost fees. You can even go back to the people who reviewed your book, and tell them you took their reviews to heart and completely rewrote your book because of what they said.

A reader can experience nothing more flattering than for a new author to take his or her opinion seriously. To have an author correct typos, grammar, or a confusing plot line to please me and make my reading experience more enjoyable would mean that my input was appreciated, and who doesn't love to be appreciated?

People love to be helpful and it can feel exciting to be part of a process that helps a fledgling writer become a better writer. So don't think you've burned your bridges with your readers if your first book—or first version—bombed. Simply try again.

Wherever you are in your writing and publishing process, it's important to realize that this writing game is not all about the money. It's not about hoping for a one-hit wonder. Neither is it just a learning process. It's a litmus test of your self-esteem, flexibility, and courage. It will shine a glaring light on the beliefs you hold about your value and the value of your perspective. Both the quality of your book and the sales you make will show you, in real time, what you think about yourself and what you think you deserve.

If you don't love writing, the Indie route is probably not for you. It's a road that reveals the truth to us about who we are, and so you will have to face that you may not be a writer (because a writer loves to write).

If you love writing, then the Indie route is the best road to be on—despite the potholes—because it will lead you to your true self. That's the Self who knows you deserve to earn a good living doing what you love, and that you can earn a good living doing what you love, no matter what others—including big publishing houses—think about your work.

When you go the Indie way, you do all the work that you'd have to do for a traditional publisher—including marketing your book—with the difference that you are in control. You get to make all the decisions about your book. While that makes you responsible for quality control, it also gives you tremendous creative leeway. You can write the book you want to write, not the one that focus groups say will sell. In other words, you get to be your most adventurous and expansive self.

So go Indie!

Prayerforce Book of Prayer


Written in a fire of divine inspiration, Prayerforce Book of Prayer was created as a year-long journey of transformation to bring the reader in closer contact with God.

The beautiful and heart-felt prayers in this collection offer ongoing insight, comfort, and inspiration. Focused on raising our vision of humanity, this book is not just a spiritual resource, but a "spiritual treatment" designed to bless you on your path in life.

Hardbound copy of Prayerforce 365 Days To A New Life

Author Clyo Beck
Clyo was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and received her Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University. She worked as a teacher of the developmentally disabled before moving to California where she served as a claims adjuster and vocational consultant before beginning a private practice as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. 

Clyo moved to Florida in 2001 and created Prayerforce.Org, a prayer website and blog dedicated to achieving world peace. In 2004 she published Prayerforce: 365 Days To A New Life. In 2007 she conducted experiential spiritual workshops on the power of images to harm and heal for the Thomas Merton Society Of Canada.

Clyo writes short stories, poems, prayers and inspirational essays. She has been involved with critique groups in Florida and London, Ontario since 2001 and served as the founding president of the London Writers' Society from 2007-2008. Married to a Canadian, Clyo and her husband have residences in both the U.S. and Canada.

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