“How To” You Do?

How To Become a Non-Famous, Unknown, Published Indie Writer in Three Easy Steps!

Get out of your chair. Take three steps. Then, go publish a novel.

Once upon a time, I was a reader of “How To” guides and articles about writing, editing, proofreading, agent-finding and publishing. Every bit of advice, even the contradictory ones, were treasured. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I learned the advice was wrong for me. Then, I lived realistically ever after.

I’m not saying that people can’t get good stuff out of these articles. My frustration is that the landscape isn’t conducive to these “How To” books. My other problem is that a lot of these guides are self-referential. The authors haven’t published anything but the “How To” guide. Philosophically, it works. I published, therefore I’m published. Realistically, I don’t see how I (as a novelist) can gain anything from a person who hasn’t actually published a bestseller novel.

Now, I’ve read some great advice to throw out if you want people to read your work. The Rule of Thirds (1/3 action, 1/3 setting, 1/3 dialogue) is binnable. The Rule of Said-is-the-Only-Worthy-Dialogue-Tag is binnable. All anyone has to do is pick up a book which has captured the imaginations of readers to realize that most of the rules can be tossed in the dumpster. The one rule, hard-and-fast, that I personally believe:

Find YOUR own writer’s voice.

The unsaid corollary is, of course:

Hope that people like it. If they don’t, you’re still screwed.

I’m a student of the Literary School of Hard Knocks. Not one thing I could offer (besides the writer’s voice rule) is honestly useful in the grand scheme of publishing. I’ve lived by the Million-Word March, which essentially presumes the first million words anyone writes is practice. I’ve sweated over more than a million words, myself. The Dome Trilogy is pretty close to that million words all by itself. Beneath a Sunless Sky is a wholly different author’s voice than Solaray Dawn, because I wanted to sound like a classic science fiction author in the first book. I think the story is good in the first book (after YEARS of editing), but the flow and proofreading shows it was where I cut my writing teeth. It’s got so little of my own voice in it, something I regret deeply. Solaray Dawn flows better because I finally found that voice, despite the book being nearly twice the length of Beneath a Sunless Sky.

Nightmare Specters is my favorite of the three. If I could recommend someone start anywhere in the trilogy? Start there, treat Beneath a Sunless Sky as the prequel, and finish it up with Solaray Dawn. Mostly because I am so scared that the first book is so roughly edited and requires a thesaurus to get through, I hope people pick up the second book first. But, well, such is life in its massive and wonderful and beautiful imperfection.

Hopefully, the Cryptid Series will blend that writer’s voice with a compelling plot that’s involved and interesting. It’s evolving even now into a better and better series. Like J.K. Rowling knew the end of her Harry Potter series before the first book was published, I know my ending. I know the premise of each book. I’ve got characters who I’m folding neatly into the earlier books, because they’re important parts of the plot development in the later ones. Plus, it’s always nice to have a named character replace “Unnamed Character Who Helps with Expository”. I did the cast of thousands thing with The Dome Trilogy.

I do make wincey-face when I see others who write their own cryptid-related book series. I read their summaries and synopses because I want to make sure that even if mine is similar, it’s not the same. This, of course, forgets entirely that I’m using a trinity of MCs (team instead of one individual) and there’s a massive game-changer at the end of Book One which breaks the whole kit-and-caboodle away from others’ cryptid books. I want to read them, and I will once I’m deep in the grind of my own series–past the point of no return. I don’t want to accidentally take anyone’s idea. It would be unintentional, but it’s their work. Similarity isn’t an issue. There’s a limited amount of data to draw from, so we’re going to have some similarities. I’m pretty pleased about my treatment of it, however. It’s inimitably Jess.

Now, I just have to hope people like Jess-as-writer. Otherwise, as my one How To rule sums it up in the corollary, I’m screwed. But at least I’ll be in great company.

There are many ways to get into indie and self-publishing, and here are just a few:

Calibre Ebook Software

Kindle Direct Publishing

Barnes and Noble Writer

Kobo Writing Life

. . . and my own book publisher, a friend to National Novel Writing Month participants for years, which does print-on-demand and ebook and gets indie books out into the mass online literary market:

Lulu.com

Come on into the publishing pool; the water’s groovy.

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