Wednesday, January 8

Every Author's Path Is Their Own / IWSG


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.


I wish my January post was cheerier, but I have some stuff I need to purge. Therefore, this is long. What can I say? I’m a wordy blogger.

Social media is TOXIC. (Raise your hand if you agree.)

I’m not going to reiterate about what’s been going on with Romance Writers of America or comment on the authors involved or the shit-storm that followed. What I will say is that I’m glad I never had the money to join RWA (I always wanted to because wasn’t it what all romance authors did?), never had the money to enter their RITA competition (and I had really wanted to enter Tsunami Crimes for years), and never had the money to join a chapter (because I’d found a local one). Yup, I am glad!

On to another topic…

Recently, in our own FB group, I saw a post about the daunting statistics of signing with an agent, and the comments took off to say things like “trad querying is a waste of time” and how you realize what a “bullshit racket it is and self-publish.”

Comments like this bother me, but I never respond because social media drama gives me anxiety. (I’m even nervous about this blog post.)

(Let me add that, no, this blog post is not just about that one FB post. It unravels into something bigger because these things have been on my mind for a long time.)

I am querying. I will always query. I’ve chosen the path to traditionally publish long ago. I don’t think it’s a waste of time or a bullshit racket. Yes, it’s hard and the statistics are depressing, but I chose it for myself. And I do want a literary agent. I fully believe I’ll find the right agent for me when it’s the right time, so I’m not going to give up. By the way, I have been published by small publishers without needing an agent.

Every author’s path is their own. (Read that again.)

One may choose to self-publish. Another may choose to query. And yet another may try out both. All paths are valid. You’re not stupid for picking one over another.

We’re not all self-published authors in IWSG.

There are traditionally published authors here. (And hybrid authors, and let’s not forget writers aiming for publication. Even writers who don’t ever want to publish.)

IWSG is for every kind of writer/author.

And it’s the same with the publishing world. There’s room for us all.

Now that I’ve said all of that, I will state that I understand indie authors get frustrated because of the bad rap they get from self-pubbed books that haven’t been edited or are just plain bad. “So, then all self-pubbed books must be horrible, right?” That’s an awful stigma to fight against, but I’ve seen countless indie authors shatter that assumption. Indie authors are coming out in force. They are dominating in many ways. And that’s fucking awesome! (No, I did not want to bleep that out.)

I totally get the “I just want to get my book out there” mentality to self-publishing. That’s why it’s so great. Writers have that choice. Many authors who have self-pubbed tried querying and realized it wasn’t for them, or they knew right off the bat trad publishing wasn’t the way they wanted to go because they wanted full control and all royalties.

I’m aware that indie authors get flak by many, and it’s horrible. It needs to stop. It’s harder to get into bookstores if you’re self-pubbed, to get reviews, to get sales. (All of that is true for authors of small publishers, too.)

I am in awe of every indie author because I, personally, could never do it. I am friends with countless indie authors (many in this awesome group), and I admire them so much.

Indie authors are NOT less than authors who trad pub or who have agents.

Let’s flip the coin now…

I’ve seen indie authors say nasty things on social media (to their indie friends) about traditionally published authors or those who want to get an agent.

(If you’re an indie author, you may not notice this, but it happens.)

I’ve read comments saying trad authors are stupid to give up their royalties and full control. I’ve also seen them knock down writers who want agents, basically laughing at them like, “Does she hope to become the next J.K. Rowling?”

Who cares if she hopes for that? Hope fuels us!

And, no, a writer is not insane for hoping to one day sign with a big publishing house. And writers are not traitors for signing with big publishing houses (or agents). I’ll admit right here that I dream of both.

I am published by small trad publishers. I chose this path because I don’t have to pay for edits, cover design, or formatting. I wouldn’t have a single book published if I had to. THAT’S THE TRUTH!

The differences between self-publishing and trad publishing with small publishers stop there. I am in the same boat as indie authors. I have to do all the marketing myself. I  struggle with sales and reviews. And I will honestly say that it annoys me when I see social media comments stating it’s only hard for indie authors. No, it’s not. Or that certain things that happen only impact indie authors. No, it doesn't. They forget, or don’t realize, that small trad pubbed authors feel it, too. The book stuffers and scammers are in the indie author world, but that also hurts authors published by small publishers and, whether you believe it or not, big houses.

How we publish doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters is that we get there!

I’m in the belief that we’re in this together, no matter the path we choose, but there’s clearly a lot of division (maybe not here but on other social media platforms), and it makes me sad.

Let’s NOT bash the paths to publication that aren’t our own.

Let’s NOT bash authors who aren’t in our publishing communities/circles.

Instead, let’s remember that EVERY AUTHOR’S PATH IS THEIR OWN, and that we are, indeed, IN THIS THING TOGETHER!

I love you all!

Let’s do even better in 2020!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!



90 comments:

  1. I hope you have a great 2020. Anytime someone makes absolute claims about things that are subjective (opinions) I run away. One way is seldom better than another in many fields. I wouldn't suggest self-surgery, but otherwise.... Certainly self-publishing is viable for many people. Hang in there!

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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    1. Self-publishing is definitely a viable option for many. Sometimes, the only option. The fact we have that option these days and there are many resources to help us with each step is amazing.

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  2. Great post. Outside of this blog hop, I've left most of the author groups I used to be a part of. The ones I'm still in, I do not participate in because of everything you've mentioned here. I want to be part of something supportive, but every author group I've been in has turn into a competition or bash fest of some kind. Thank you for being honest and clearing the air. I'm sorry you've suffered anxiety over this. I hope it gets better. I'm a proud indie author who still queries short stories from time to time because that's my choice. You are one of my favorite authors and bloggers. I enjoy following you and reading your work, and I love that you are traditionally published.

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    1. It's awful that author groups are becoming this way. So competitive and nasty. Especially author groups on FB.

      I deal with anxiety and social media a lot after something that happened in our blogging community at the end of 2016. I was brought into something...well, nasty...and it did a lot of damage to me.

      I am proud of what you've done, Toi! Keep it up!

      Thank you!

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  3. Hi Chrys - I love the way you write and the ideas you offer. I've never really got into social media, and kept to myself ... but am very happy with the comments I get, the friends I've made in the blogging world ... I rather stay away from the rest ... take care and all the best for 2020 - cheers Hilary

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    1. The blogging world is far more supportive and friendly than any other social media platform. Well, if you are in the write blogging circles, and the IWSG is one. :)

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  4. I am the same as Toi as this is the only writer group I still participate in. I agree with you that social media is becoming more toxic all the time. I enjoy instagram because it seems to have less drama than the others but I have never enjoyed any of the others. I honestly don't think social media is good for my mental health!
    Kudos to you for saying what you have and I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

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    1. I'm in a few author FB groups. One of which is for a book event I've attended 3 times. Some of the members of that latter group have said things on their own feeds about trad authors, because most of the authors in that event are indie. I'm just about the only trad author there.

      Instagram is also the one I enjoy the most. Do drama unless you're a celebrity posting about politics. lol But my enjoyment has gone down since FB took voer and added their algorithms. :(

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  5. Well said! I'm with a small press and couldn't imagine self-publishing. But I also have to do a lot of work. I think most authors do. Would I have made more self-publishing? Absolutely not. My publisher has clout and does things I can't, which has helped my books find more success.
    The IWSG will always be about writers and authors on every path.

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    1. Small publishers are great. It's awesome to have one that can devote more energy to their clients because they have smaller rosters. With my other small publisher, they have over 500 authors and don't do much at all. They certainly don't submit ARCs to reviewers.

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  6. I don't rule out any path because I don't know where my writing will take me. I like to be open to all the possibilities that are out there. And let others do the same. :)

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  7. I feel like I say something similar every time I'm in front of a group of writers. There's no one right way to be a writer. Everyone has to decide for themselves what's best for them. It's frustrating that we can't be cool about it.

    I admire the hell out of your career, by the way.

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    1. Exactly. It does get frustrating. There are many different ways to be a writer/author.

      Career? Eep. I don't really feel like I have a career. I feel like that's what I'm trying to get. lol

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  8. Social media is toxic, but it helps get the word out there for writers (and others). I am now on a FB diet and feel lighter. (hahahaha) Now to lose that weight.
    Teresa

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    1. I'm actually wondering if social media really helps get the word out there. For me, Twitter seems pretty much pointless. Facebook is good. Instagram I love, but doesn't really do anything for authors.

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  9. Erm...I was not aware this was such a big argument. Maybe I'm not spending enough time on social media (that's not a bad thing though). All the writers I know are really supportive of each other, regardless of their prefered paths, but I do know how some people get so why this surprises me is another thing. I dream of the trad-pub path but have self-pubbed work that I haven't wanted to query...

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    1. It may not be a "big argument," but there is a problem. Some writers may not notice it. I've noticed it because I'm friends with a ton of indie authors, and I'm a part of a couple of groups. I also frequent social media more, but I'm thinking about staying away from because it is so toxic. Lately, it's become an author eat author world on social media.

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  10. Yep - everyone gets to choose their own path or paths in this life. I too am hoping to snag a traditional publisher, large or small. I too have friends who've self-published and think they were smart to do so. I like to tango and don't care for the fox-trot, but I still think it is a valid dance form. Let's get out of our own way and be liberated to move in whatever form supports us in the moment. thanks for this.

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  11. I chose to go indie after trying for several years, a decade apart, to find an agent. I wouldn't mind being published by a smaller press, but I don't think I'm the type of person who's right for the Big Five. Though if the publishing industry were as it was a few decades ago, I would've tried a lot harder to be traditionally published.

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  12. Every author, no matter the path, has struggles. Each path is different and deserves respect. I don't regret my path as it's given me the ability to bring books to the world that might never have made it otherwise.

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    1. You're right. Each path deserves respect. They're different and great and challenging in their own rights.

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  13. Yep! Each person hopes to find the path(s) that work(s) for them. Bashing others so often comes from a place of ignorance, fear, or jealousy. Time wasting and soul destroying.
    We should all be cheering each other along on our journeys because this is a tough journey to take!
    Wishing you all the best for 2020 & beyond!!!

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    1. You said it! *applauds*

      Thank you, Jemi! I hope 2020 is your best year yet. :)

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  14. social media is toxic. it's too easy to click without thinking. i use it, but don't spend a lot of time getting heavily involved and never respond to anything bad. i read a lot of indie authors and, yeah, some could use some editing help, but most of the time i can't tell the difference. we all make our own choices and that's what makes us unique.

    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. I read a lot of books by indie authors, too, and you can't really tell a difference.

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  15. Hi Chrys, I have always thought it was sad and uncalled for when I see negative comments on social media. I'm sorry that you've had to deal with them, too. You are completely right about each writer's path being their own. I'm glad we don't need to be cookie cutter writers.

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  16. Powerful words, Chrys. I hope everyone is paying attention.

    I went the small publisher as well. The biggest reason was I wasn't sure my work was good enough for public consumption. It was great to have a team with me helping me by creating cover art, editing it within an inch of its life and teaching me about the industry as a whole. When the release day(s) came, I was sure that my work was as ready as it could be.

    Lack of confidence should be my middle name. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. I hope so, too.

      Having a publishing team behind you with all the details really helps. It's why I went with trad publishing, too. :)

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  17. Well said, Chrys! Don't apologize and there's no need to feel nervous or anxious. I admire you so much because you don't allow your "insecurities" to get in the way of what you want to accomplish. You go girl. Full steam ahead.

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  18. You would think by now we wouldn't be having this argument. That we would have realized each writer's path is their own and they walk it how they see fit.

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  19. Great post. I'm so glad you said what is on your mind. One thing I love about this time as a writer is that there are so many more options. And we should respect everyone's choice. If I ever try to get published, I would try to get an agent too. I really don't want to take on all the jobs of publishing a book. I hope you'll comment on my agent spotlight interviews if you see an agent who represents adult fiction (some do) or want an agent's input on your query letter. You could win a critique that might help you.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie! I actually submitted a query letter to one of the agents you spotlighted for a middle grade book and she asked to see the full. She represents adult book, too. Not I'm waiting to hear back. My fingers are crossed. :)

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  20. Yup. Everyone has their own path. All paths are valid! I do think the tides are turning on the stigma attached to self-published authors though. It's still not great but I do think it's better.

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  21. It's interesting to watch the pendulum swing. I remember when self-pub had such a terrible reputation...mostly due to authors who didn't get the importance of editing. And you're right about the swing against traditional and agent paths. I felt the full force of that one when I joined a local writers' group. There's no wrong or right, though. Only what works for the writer/author. I'm with you on sticking to the trad path with my own writing for now. Not to say it won't change in the future. But for now, it's what I prefer.

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    1. I've also experienced the negativity toward trad authors in person. I'd bitten my tongue and didn't say a word because I hate conflict.

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  22. Well said. Social media can be so mean. I've been a member of RWA for a long time and many times I wondered if the investment was worth it. I think they helped more at the beginning. The whole situation is a disaster.
    I'm like you, published by a small press. I'd still like to have one of my fantasy novels published by TOR and get a super agent to negotiate deals. I know successful authors of all paths. Live and let live and support each other is my motto.

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    1. Getting published by TOR would be neat. Wishing you all the best!

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  23. Why is it that people think what was right for them is right for the rest of the world?

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  24. I think we should all do what we think is best for us. Self-publish, agent, or publishing house is an individual's decision. We can always change if we're not satisfied.




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  25. I totally agree with your post. I had wished to have money to join the RWA but glad I didnt waste the money. And social media can be toxic.
    But only you can decide your path. Good luck querying!

    Allie

    www.alliebock.com

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  26. I'm right there with you, Chrys. I deliberately did not post about the RWA mess (although I've done some of these types of posts in the past) because frankly, I've had it. The hatefulness, the negativity, the complete lack of sanity. I'm considering getting off Twitter altogether, as I'm not sure the good is outweighed by the bullying and mob mentality. As writers, we should be encouraging each other on the path we chosen, not backstabbing each other. Stay your course, ignore the naysayers.

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    1. Twitter is where so much of the negativity and nastiness comes from. I've thought about removing my account, too, but decided to keep it and just stay off it more.

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  27. I say... Amen! I've not seen or been part of much (or any) of the kind of thing you are talking about, but that's because I keep a pretty low profile on social media. And yet... social media may be about the only means I have of promoting my books.

    At this point, the IWSG is really the only author's group I've been part of, and it is wonderful! I am thinking about joining a group "IRL" and hope I don't find it toxic!

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    1. I hope you don't, either, and find groups IRL that work for you.

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  28. You're right, Chrys. 'Every author’s path is their own.' Sometimes life dictates the path we take. I'm part of dozens of mainly self-pub FB groups and most of the groups I'm in are very strict and kick people out if they say anything nasty. I just flip it off.
    I've researched very deeply the trad/self-pub pros and cons, and there are pros and cons for both. These days, the 'Read a sample' is like the gate keeper for self-pub. For every 10 books I 'Read a sample', I probably buy one. You can soon tell if it's any good.

    I've decided to self-publish. I've spent a year learning about covers, marketing, publishing etc and feel confident enough to start launching this year. I've always considered myself a slow writer, which probably isn't altogether true unless I compare myself to those who self-publish a new book every month or two! I like to carefully create and don't intend sending anything out into the world until I'm satisfied I couldn't change much!

    Try not to let social media get you down. There's more around to impress than to depress. Being a member of RWA Australia I know how inbred it is and I know how unfair those awards are! So relax. You're not missing much!

    Have an awesome 2020!

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    1. There are certainly pros and cons for both. It's important to research each path.

      I wish you all the best with your self-publishing this year and beyond!

      And I'm not worried that I'm missing anything when it comes to RWA.

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  29. Hi Chrys, like you I too want a literary agent and again like you I too believe that when both the time and book align, I'll find my agent. Fingers crossed for both of us.

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  30. Hi Chrys! My heart soared when I read this! Forgive me, but as I read, I thought of my recovery work and I know that's not what you're talking about at all, but that's what I can relate it too. In my world, we tell people that no "one size" fits all. Just because I found something that works fantastic for me, like 12 steps and counseling, doesn't mean it will work for you. Maybe you find that a church group and kickboxing is what you need. It's because we're individuals with unique thoughts, feelings and ideas so we do what works best for us without judgment of what works best for others. I self-publish and am well aware that my books may (okay, do) have typos, dropped words, etc. Could have a better cover, better promotion, but this is what works for me and what works for you is going through a traditional agent/publisher. Who am I to question or judge that? Okay, ramble over. Happy New Year!!!

    Elsie

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    1. I'm glad this helped you, even in another sense than what my topic might've been about. I love that!

      Happy New Year! And wishing you a healthy and happy year, too!

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  31. For various reasons, including the idea of being in control of all aspects of writing and publishing, I've decided to pursue indie-publishing. If I were much younger and had many more decades to write, I might have given trad publishing a shot. Since this is the year I plan to publish my first novel, I'm about to find out just how difficult publishing and marketing on my own will be.

    Thank you for helping clear the air on this subject.

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  32. I wish you a great and successful 20/20 Chrys. Hope all is well.

    Yvonne.

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  33. Here, here! Well said. When I saw the RWA stuff happening, I shut myself off to the mess. Messes like that stress me out too. I want to keep on top of stuff, in the loop, but that scares me off a lot of the time. I totally agree all writers have their own journeys and no one is lesser than anyone else. We need to support one another, not tear each other down. Here's to a greet 2020 for all of us!

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  34. I can't waste time getting involved in social media fury. It's going to get worse with the upcoming presidential election. My life has its own upheaval, I don't need to take on someone else's rants. I skim those posts/tweets and move on. Several years ago, I would've gotten involved and worked up over all this "stuff". It's not worth it for my peace of mind. Hope you have a great writing month.

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    1. I don't reply to ANY tweets or comments. I stay out of it, too. But sometimes, seeing it (skimming it) can leave dents in your armor.

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  35. I too hope for a literary agent and traditional publishing contract but that's the path I have decided is right for me. As you say, we all have to follow our own paths and not bash others because theirs is different. Best wishes to you, Chrys.

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  36. Every writer has his/her own path. It sounds cliche, but it is so true. And each path can change on a dime. It's all about how we handle the changes in our paths and NOT allow those changes to dim our love for writing. (Okay, I'm writing this sounding all wise and stuff. Bahh! Nope, it's advice I know I need to take. I've been out of it for over a year because of a change in writing course. So I totally get the feeling of insecurity and doubt.)

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    1. Yes, paths can change at any given moment. I have self-published a short story, and will self-publish a short story. I also help my mom to self-publish her picture books, so I still dabble with that path. :)

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  37. Social media gives me social anxiety. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil. Great post. Happy IWSG and Happy New Year!

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  38. You're so right. Every path is different. Even the one you're on can change at any moment. I think indie authors have come a long way since even five years ago. If you get a professional edit and an amazing book cover and do it right, I think it's a smart choice. The market is always flucuating. You can spend literally years trying to get an agent and more years waiting on publication. Sometimes the publishing world tells us what's hot and what's selling, but they aren't on the front lines of kids reading books in libraries and schools. Sometimes you have to form new goals and trust your gut!

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    1. Indie authors have definitely com e a long way. I love it! :D

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  39. Beautifully said. I agree completely. Success comes in many colors. We all bring different skills to the game. What works for me might sound horrifying to you, but that's fine. It only has to work for me and you can still do you.

    I've seen that particular slam against trad publishing more and more lately. Not sure if it's just internet poisoning (where everything is black and white) or what. I only see it online. When I talk to indie published writers in person, we just talk like normal people with different experiences.

    Anyway, good post! @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

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    1. Exactly. It's just like with marketing. What works for one author won't for for everyone.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who has seen this slam against trad publishing.

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  40. Hand Raised. I still write my blog and I'm on Facebook, but I limit my time with the latter to looking at photos of children in our extended family or checking on close friends. I tweet when I have a new blog post ready. I avoid the rest of Twitter. No instagram for me. I don't know how people can accomplish anything when they're heavily involved in social media.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I will be avoiding much of Twitter from now on.

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  41. So true the path is different for every author. It is all about perspective, attitude, need and preference. I want to be a hybrd author so... I like both path ideas. LOLπŸ™‰πŸ™ˆπŸ™ŠπŸ‘½

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  42. I have no room in my life for snark and meanness, no matter which side of the publishing coin I find it. As for the RWA...I don't know much, but so glad I let my membership lapse because I hear they're not giving refunds to people who want out.

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    1. Yikes! I haven't heard that. If it's true, it's just another nail in their coffin.

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  43. Fantastic post, Chrys. Such solid points made and I agree with them all. I'm a hybrid author but have now become complete Indie. I totally get the $$$ thing, too. Joining Associations, paying for all the services when it comes to publishing the book, can be daunting and break the bank if we're not careful. Gosh, I think you're amazing, Chrys. Your books are fantastic, no wonder you are trad published. Honestly, it takes quality writing and amazing stories to get that support/interest in your books by a press. You also are a top-notch marketer. I want to model myself after you but I am not nearly as good.

    I agree that social media can be quite toxic. I am off facebook for over a year now but feel that Instagram is the new facebook. I feel it's lost some of its original charm. I'm sorry to hear you were witness to this non-sensical debate about authors. And by the way we are all insecure. I am more insecure now than I was after publishing my first book. Was thinking I need to join the ISWG on the blog. I am currently on the Goodreads one with you but I'm not on there much...I'm pleased to see you writing about your frustrations and it shows your strength both as a woman and a writer. Love you!!

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  44. This is an AWESOME post. Thank you so much for writing it. I agree with you on all your points. The one thing I think a lot of "indy" published writers forget is that EVERY trad published author was edited by a professional editor. And as you pointed out, the houses pay for all but the marketing, so your book is actually out there without the upfront costs associated with that. I think if more indy published authors could take on a professional editor they wouldn't have such a steep hill to climb toward sales. Be that as it may, like you said, not everyone can afford that. But it is something to consider when "bashing" trad published authors...

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  45. Great post. I echo what many people here have already said. I see authors trashing each other all the time and it is so annoying and unhelpful. We all, as you indicate,have our own path as a writer. We should be learning and adapting from each other.

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  46. Hi Chrys...

    Happy New Year! I am very proud of you to bring out these points. You are SO right! And yes, we ALL need to do our best and instead of break down other writers, we should support them in whatever way they chose to travel on their publishing journey. I agree with you, I am HOLDING out for my agent. I wrote three books and non have been picked up yet. I have been writing for over a decade and I believe I am a strong writer and I do have interest by very prominent agents, but at the end they pass. I am hoping with my current novel, it will be my breakthrough. Yes, HOPE is all we have and NO ONE has the right to crap on our hopes and dreams...

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