Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cultivating My Brand & Progress

This is an exciting and frightening time for me.

When +Alexandra Webb  first asked me if I wanted to be part of this experiment I instantly said yes and as the months have passed I have come to realize the importance and the seriousness of that answer. Who would have thought that one simple word—just three little letters would alter my life so dramatically. But it has and it will continue to do so. Every move I make on social media, every blog post, every Tweet, every Facebook status on my author page, every comment has to be carefully weighed against my brand as an author. And yes, authors are brands in and of themselves.  Granted I am a small name, practically unheard of brand, but it is my brand I am trying to cultivate.

At the beginning we each knew we were going to need a “SPE Project” the one work we were going to use to break into the Self-Publishing business to try to make names for ourselves, to see how hard this industry really is to become successful, and to catalog our ups, our downs, our hits and all of our misses. My project for SPE is “Waking Up In Bedlam” and as for my downs, here they are: I’ve been stuck on Chapter 12 for over a month now. I am procrastinating, sometimes not even consciously, sometimes I think the fear of reaching for my dreams triggers something in my brain that says “Let’s take a break even though you’ve only written 12 words and play “Where’s My Perry” for a little bit.” And off I go. Because it is frightening when you are reaching for your dreams. And as the famous quote goes:

 If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

I’ve seen this attributed to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Albert Einstein, Eminem, Winston Churchill, and Dr. Seuss. I don’t really care who said it (although it is quoted in Madam President Sirleaf’s book, so let’s just go with that), it is the truth. Your dreams should scare the ever-loving-crap out of you. End of Story. And every move you make should be pushing you towards that goal. So yes, I procrastinate. I play “Where’s My Perry” when I should be concentrating, I slack and get distracted by Facebook posts and even worst Facebook drama. But I always manage to pull myself back and remind myself that just because I’m scared of what it will mean for my life when I finish this project that I am only ever a failure, a true failure if I do not try.

So I am still trying. And for the record, Chapter 12 is the last chapter in Waking Up In Bedlam, so far it stands at 52k+ and I’ve already sent Chapters 1-9 out to some of my beta readers, I’ve already gotten feedback and things are looking good. Even while procrastinating my efforts are still going towards my dream and my goal. While I’m playing my stupid Perry game on my iPad I am usually combing through the previous chapters, fixing little things here and there. Even when I’m not posting about my progress I am still focused while goofing off.

I read my manuscript from Prologue to Chapter 12 at least once a week, to alter, edit and make sure I’m not overlooking stuff.  Self-Publishing gets a bad rap for having spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, looking unprofessional, with shoddy editing, and plot holes.  I am striving to make sure that I can polish this baby as best as I can, that I take all of my beta readers advice and suggestions and that I do all that I can so that I do not fall into that stereotype.

I have this reoccurring nightmare that when my book is released it is so bad that I become the most hated person on the internet, the people in my small town all revolt against me and drag me out to the center of town and burn me at the stake with the ONE copy of my book that sold. I wake up in a cold sweat, panting and breathless, usually in tears or screaming. My poor dog and husband probably think I’ve gone insane. I am a writer, I think it is safe to say that my sanity-boat sailed a long time ago.

I don’t want to be burned at the stake, I don’t want to be roasted on the proverbial pyres of the internet either. I am my brand, my brand is me and I want to succeed, even if it means taking longer than I had hoped for the final product.

So where does Waking Up In Bedlam stand as of now? We are at 52k, one chapter left to write. Three chapters left to send out to my beta readers, then it is time to start the editing process. After a couple of rounds of that and final edits it will be good to go. I am aiming for mid-July.

I am also taking an online course for self-editing called “BeforeYou Hit Send” by Angela James. I’m hoping that will help me because I know grammar isn’t my strong suit and because I know I have a lot to learn.

One thing I can say is this: I am proud of myself. I’m proud that I am sticking with this even if it is slow going. I am proud that I am taking steps to get my name out there, to have my name in constant publication, I do that with the Twisted Tales blog. It is a project that is far more than just writing a fun little fairytale, it is more ways of cultivating my brand, my name and having a body of work that others can enjoy on a reoccurring schedule. I am proud that I am stepping outside of my comfort zone to do things like take the “Before You Hit Send” course and setting up my “Smashwords” acct in anticipation of publishing Waking Up In Bedlam. I am proud that my beta readers and friends like my story. I love when they email me that a piece of dialog made them laugh or that they want more. Those things make me feel incredibly good.  It lets me know that I am on the right track.

As for my reoccurring nightmare, I think in time it will pass. I know there will always be haters. People will hate on me and my books without even reading them. I know this, it is the nature of the internet.  I know I will get drive-by 1 star ratings from people who dislike me personally, or don’t like paranormal romance, or who think using the word “cock” means I should burn in hell. These are bound to happen, that I am prepared for. What I fear is letting myself and the people that believe in me down. That would be the worst.

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