Wednesday, 2 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday and IWSG: On self-confidence, and owning the title of Author!

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I've been reading Stolen Songbird, a fabulous YA fantasy which puts a totally new spin on trolls! I absolutely loved it, and I really hope the next book's published - it deserves to be! (The book was published by Strange Chemistry, which sadly closed its doors a few weeks ago. :( )

I also read Trudi Canavan's latest book, Thief's Magic, and I really enjoyed it! I loved the Black Magician trilogy, and this looks set to be another exciting and creative series.

I also finished the Incarnate trilogy, and happily, the books kept getting better! Such a well-planned and original series. And the covers are gorgeous, too. 


What I'm writing

I'm about to go back to revising my MG fantasy! I got feedback from several beta readers, as well as one of my regular CP's who gives really detailed notes, so I'm ready to dive into another edit. But, um, slightly impatient, because I can't actually start the edit until I'm done with various Darkworld things happening behind the scenes which need me to be fully focused. So I started working on another short Darkworld-related mini-project, in an attempt to stay sane while waiting for certain emails...
  What inspires me

Lovely, encouraging feedback on a story I love! I'm really inspired to make changes which will make the book even better. :)

What else I've been up to

Working, waiting, and more waiting! Trying to distract myself from refreshing my inbox constantly. One of the problems with expecting important editorial emails but not knowing when they'll actually arrive is that I get nervous about making other plans. Inevitably, when I plan something non-work-related, I'll get an email which I've been waiting weeks/months for, and have to hole up in the Editing Cave. Every. Single. Time. Now, this is why a crystal ball would be handy...

It's also time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the creation of Ninja Captain Alex, and is a great way for writers to share their worries, support and encouragement.

Self-confidence is a wobbly bridge. Fact. A lot of writers suffer low self-esteem and self-belief, and bizarrely, this doesn’t go away after being published – in fact, it often escalates. Being published means putting yourself out there, being judged, even getting hateful emails/DM’s telling you that you don’t deserve to call yourself an author (sad but true). And that old friend: the inferiority complex.

Before I was published, I never imagined that being with a small (but growing) indie press would lead to ostracism by book stores, event organisers, bloggers, even some other authors. At first, everyone kept congratulating me on achieving my dream, and I happily rode the high…until I came crashing down. I started 2013 as an excited writer on the brink of releasing her first book, and ended in a worse place, mentally, than I’d begun. It was the little things that hurt the most. Being excluded from debut author groups, being labelled as “aspiring” rather than “actual author” on the grounds that I don’t yet have an agent - and not daring to complain or even mention this publically. But I figured it's time to be honest about it. It hasn't been easy. Publishing is a rollercoaster by nature, and of course, it's great having a book out there! But at the same time, yes, there's vulnerability. There's haters. There's poor Netgalley reviews in your inbox on Christmas Eve. There's the one person who emails you the link to their negative review of your book, informing you they've posted it on all retailer sites. And then asking for a free copy of your next book.

Negativity aside, I'm sure every writer dreams of seeing their book on shelves in a bookshop. That hasn't happened for me yet, even though I have a great publisher who's doing everything they can to increase distribution - and I'm actually pretty optimistic in that direction! I live in the UK, though, and most bookshops won't touch print-on-demand books, even from small presses. There's even a policy against self-published books in one of the major retailers, and virtually no independent stores outside of London. So, no signings or events - and another knock to the confidence. I’ve spent the past few months afraid to try for opportunities, in case I get knocked back again like I have so many times, afraid to connect with “real” authors online (though admittedly, having social anxiety doesn't help!) – but what is a “real author”?

Someone who’s published a book. That’s the definition of "author".

So, it’s time to step outside my comfort zone. It’s time to own that title – Author. Because it’s what I am, whatever haters might say. If you’ve published a book, you’re an author - whether you're self-published, indie press, or traditional. Even if you’ve sold only one copy, or if you’re a mega-bestseller. If you have an agent or publisher. If you used to have an agent or publisher. If you go it alone, or go hybrid. You’re an author.

Which means it's time to face my fear. I'm going to my first event on the 12th July, YALC - the UK's first YA Lit Con (in London)! As I don't have a UK publisher, I won't be on any panels or signing, but I'll bring business cards and Darkworld bookmarks, just in case. I won't lie, I'm pretty nervous. As well as having social anxiety, I'm also an introvert who does not feel comfortable in large crowds, especially when I don't know anyone. But I'm hoping that it won't be too overwhelming, and that I might even run into some UK Twitter people!

*deep breath* So I'm putting on my Real Author hat, and though I might be scared, I'm excited, too! :)


  1. I have a book put out by Strange Chemistry sitting on my TBR pile right now, and I'm kind of wondering what's going to happen with the rest of the series. It's really a shame they were shut down.

    Few things are more inspiring than good feedback. So happy to hear that you've been receiving some encouraging comments about your writing lately! Hope the revisions on your MG fantasy will continue to go well!

  2. Go go Real Author Hat! I'm really excited for you and your first YA con, Emma - your nerves are definitely understandable, but I'm absolutely certain you will love every minute of it and hopefully come away with a bit more confidence and a lot more popularity! :D

    Best of luck with the rest of revisions, and have a wonderful week :)

    - Caitie

  3. Wonderful news that you are attending a conference armed with your cards and bookmarks and determination! I met a successful indie press author a few weeks ago at a wedding of all places, and he preached about how he owes all of his success to personal appearances. He sells his books through his talks. He loves talking, however. Who knows? Maybe you will too! Good luck and always remember, you are an author!

  4. I came so close to having a book published by Strange Chemistry, but in the end they decided not to. That was probably the nail in their coffin, right there. (JUST KIDDING!) I'm sorry to here they went out of business. They seemed like a great company.

    Wear that hat proudly!

  5. Glad you're going for it. Man I'd love to attend a con in London (or anywhere in Britain for that matter!). Just don't forget that you belong there just as much as any author. The stigma of self-publishing is slowly disappearing. Just remember you're in this for the long haul. Your books will be available in ebook format for the rest of your life, so think of these books as your eventual backlist as more and more people learn about you and your writing.

  6. It sounds like you've had a tough go of it. I've had some similar experiences as an indie author, but I did find three independent bookstores who take indie authors and I'm thankful for them. I don't make as much money on my books that sell there, but it's nice to see my books in a few book stores and have opportunity to do a signing. I hope that you find a small bookstore like that soon, and that you have an amazing time at that event! You are an author. Own it, know it, and wear the hat proudly. :)

  7. Great feedback is so motivating, isn't it? I suppose the fact that you can't get to your edits right away will only increase the excitement about getting down to it. So much better than approaching an edit with trepidation. Even so. I hope you're able to get to it ASAP!

    I have STOLEN SONGBIRD on my shelf. I had just bought it when I found out about Strange Chemistry. Such a shame! I hope for Danielle L. Jensen's sake--and everyone else published through SC--that they're able to find homes at other publishing houses.

    Have a wonderful week, Emma! :D

  8. This is one of many posts I've read on the subject of separation when it comes to authors. Some of it is for financial reasons - bookstores can't afford to order all books. But a lot of it is just attitude. Don't let it get you down.

  9. I'm glad you were honest about the drawbacks of being published. It doesn't get easier. It gets harder. Even some pubbed by the Big Five don't do well on BookScan and have trouble getting a subsequent book published. And there's no end to bad rates/reviews and sometimes book bashing. (Jeez, I'm depressing myself just thinking about it all...) Thanks for the info about Strange Chemistry. I guess it goes on the pile with Noble Romance and all the other start-up e-pubbers that are going under. I'm afraid we'll see more and more. Good luck with your projects and your upcoming event. You're tougher (and way more prolific) than I am. Keep going! :)

  10. It's such a shame about Strange Chemistry. They had some good books!

    Good luck with all your various editing projects. Yeah, I need to stop refreshing my e-mail, too ;)

  11. That attitude of not being a "real" author is what turned me off from my local writer's guild. The membership is mostly older, so their mindset leans toward traditional publishing.

    Sorry that where you live doesn't cooperate much with your publishing route, but best of luck with the upcoming event!

  12. CP feedback is the best. especially when they really connect with your story. Good luck with your edits. :D Thanks for sharing.

  13. Let the haters hate. It's their issue usually and not ours. You're a real writer. Be proud.

    Yeah, I've gotten a similar email about not so great reviews posted everywhere and wanting a free copy of the next book. Really?

    But then there's the great moments - a fan telling me he puts me on the same level as Terry Brooks Sword of Shanara series. That's awesome. So I make emails like that one count more. They do. They're my audience.

    Our readers don't care how we're publsihed, only that we are.

  14. There is no easy path to publication. Own your journey and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
    Hey, all those big publishers started out small some time. Right?

  15. Good luck at the conference! I can understand your feelings as my books are with a small press too. I'm an introvert and trying to market myself has been a struggle I managed to get one of my books in some great indie bookstores but the main bookstores in my city wouldn't give me the time of day. But I've been lucky to participate in some events in the past few months that have really helped my confidence and made me feel just great! Here's hoping this conference turns out to be the same kind of experience for you.

  16. Publishing is certainly a hard world, from one end to the other. But you are definitely a real author, which a huge accomplishment under your belt! Glad you're honest about the hard times, and never forget to cherish the good ones.

  17. I need to start reading the Incarnate trilogy, it sounds so good!
    You're so right, we're often so caught up in getting published that we don't think about what it's going to be like when we do. I hope it gets better for you.
    Good luck with your revisions!

  18. That's fabulous, Emma!! So excited for you! Wish I could come and hold your hand, but I don't think you'll need it . . . dying to visit London some time though!

  19. Erin - I was so sad to hear the news, I feel so bad for the authors.

    I know, it's the best feeling - thank you!

    Caitie - Thank you so much! :D

    Kim - I'm not an amazing self-marketer, but I'd love to be able to do events someday! :)

    Melanie - It's a shame it happened, especially for the authors - it must be the worst feeling for a debut author!

    Ken - Very true! Thanks! :)

    Tyrean - Thank you! :) I wish indie stores were more popular in the UK. It might be different if I lived in London - fingers crossed I get to see my book on shelves someday!

    Jaime - True - I hope I can keep up the motivation! I hope all the SC authors find new homes, too.

    Diane - I've seen other posts about this, too, and it's a shame. Hope bookstores start to change their attitudes!

    Lexa - Very true; nothing's certain in publishing! But there are good things, too, of course! :) Thank you!

    Cole - Ah, the curse of the refreshing-email syndrome. :P

    Loni - It's a shame when that happens! Thank you! :)

    Leslie - It really is. :)

    M Pax - Very true! I treasure my nice emails from readers. :)

    Meredith - Exactly! In this day and age, there are so many options.

    Julie - It's great to hear you're getting more confident! I'm hoping to get to more events in the next year or so, and even to do some of my own at some point! :)

    Mere - Thank you! :) Very true!

    Laura - There are good aspects to being published, of course, like lovely emails from fans. It makes it all worthwhile! :)

    Jamie - Thank you! :) I haven't been to London nearly enough times for someone who only lives a couple of hours away. So looking forward to it! :)

  20. The waiting!
    Oh my gosh, you are totally a real author! Definitely own it! You've worked hard for that title! You're published, you deserve it. And you're awesome. There are always going to be bad days. This is why the writer community is so important. To remind us that we rock when we forget. Cause we do, far too often.
    I'm so excited you're going to the con! ^_^

  21. Wow. Kind of makes you want to crawl back into the bat cave when you see authors treated that way. I know we need tough skin, but who's cold-hearted enough to send a bad review on Christmas Eve?

    In other news-- congrats on the upcoming event. As a fellow introvert I feel your pain but know you'll survive and be happy you did it.

  22. Yes, you are an author!
    And while I've not encountered as many roadblocks as you, there have been some because I'm with a small press. And of course the assertion that I'm not traditionally published. But you know what - it doesn't matter. We know we did it!
    Just find that one thing that's been awesome and confirms you're a real author. For me, it's knowing all three of my books are Amazon Best Sellers. No one can take that away now.

  23. YES! Own the author title!!! You've done just FINE! Every journey takes a different path.

  24. Someone actually posted poor reviews and then had the gaul to ask for a free book? Yikes. But great job on looking past it! What I really love about writing and publishing right now is how different it is and how we can become a published author in many ways - it's still our book in the hands of others. :) You are an AUTHOR!

  25. Yes, you are an author! I admire you that you're stepping up even though you're scared. I'm experiencing the newly accepted author fears right now. Yikes!

  26. oh my gosh.,.. absolutely, you should own that author title. It's yours. You've well and truly earned it.

  27. Own it, own it, own it! You're an author and you deserve that title, period. Sorry you've had to go through so much crap. You've succeeded where others have failed and you've gotten to a place in your writing journey that makes some people jealous. Ignore them and keep moving forward. :)

  28. Go you!!! And yes, you write words...ergo you are a writer. You publish a book...ergo you are an author. People get too hung up on labels. It's silly really.

    And you can totally do this London thing! A fun trick to try. Pretend you are at a costume party and your costume is Author. (or whatever you want to be) Sometimes it's an easy way to short circuit anxiety about a situation, because's just like Halloween and it's just a costume. (It allows you to play it up, rather than play it down.) It's silly I know, but it works for me.

    Hope you have an amazing week and those important emails come through. :)

  29. Good for you Emma, it is all too easy for others to dismiss us. You are an author, it is a shame we are all bombarded with such negativity sometimes. Have fun at the conference, you never know who you will meet.

  30. Great post, Emma. As someone who plans to self-publish before the end of the year, I found your post very inspiring and encouraging. And think you're spot-on. Anyone who has written a book is an author. Period. The times, they are a-changin' and I think eventually many of those things you mentioned (the shunning by bookstores, etc) will change also. Have a great week!

  31. Krystal - Thanks! :D

    L.G. - I wonder about this sometimes! Thank you - I'm excited for it!

    Alex - Exactly! And it's wonderful that you've had so much success! :)

    Hart - Thanks!

    Krista - It took me by surprise, to say the least! Thanks! :)

    Christine - Best of luck! It's an exciting time! :)

    Lynda- Thanks so much! :)

    Elise - Thank you! :)

    Kris - I don't quite get the label thing, either! That sounds like some good advice - I find the more I talk to people as Real Author, the more confident I feel in it! :)

    Suzanne - Thanks! :)

    Kitty - I'm glad you found it inspiring! :) I was worried it'd be too on the negative side, but I wanted to be honest. Good for you in choosing your path, and I'm sure things will keep improving for indie authors - I hope the UK follows suit!

  32. I feel your pain. Those of us who weren't published by one of the big publishing houses have gone through what you're experiencing. I felt validated when a publisher said yes (small or not) and I believe you should enjoy the fact that your work is published and that this is the first part of your journey. There's no talent where your talent will take you. Have fun!

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