I have to say, I’ve been inspired lately. Mostly due to my husband’s belief that I can be a professional fiction writer, as well as to the Christmas gift he got me last year: a Kindle. Before the success of ebooks, I thought the only way I could be a published novelist was to get an agent, get a publishing contract, and have my book published by a traditional publisher. I had considered self-publishing in the past, but those were in the dark days before ebooks, and the fear of paying for a print run and having stacks of unopened boxes of books in my garage hung like a specter over the whole enterprise.
But seeing the success of ebook authors in recent years has me reevaluating self-publishing.
So with my new Kindle, I started downloading a bunch of books. I started off downloading public domain books that were either free or super-cheap (A Princess of Mars and The Worm Ouroboros being two of my favorites). But then I started getting books about self-publishing, about making a living writing ebooks, and the whole crazy dream of me being a fiction author started to seem possible.
These are the books that have inspired me or that continue to inspire me. These are the ones I’m reading right now or that I’ve read in the last few months:
This one kinda started it all. It made self-publishing seem possible; it laid out a plan. It also gave me a nice kick in the pants to sit down and start cranking out words. I am not prolific. It takes me a long time to finish rough drafts of stories, scripts, novels. It takes me even longer to revise (I often rewrite entire drafts from scratch). So reading how Platt, Truant, and Wright have cranked out millions of words in the last few years has lit a fire under me to crank out the words at a faster pace. If I want to have a career writing books, I have to write a lot of books.
Writer Dad by Sean Platt
This one was suggested after my purchase of Write. Publish. Repeat., and since I liked the previous book, I thought I’d check out this other one. Though less nuts and bolts/nitty-gritty about the process of self-publishing, this book was just as inspiring. Basically, Platt decided to make writing his full-time career and Writer Dad is the story of how he did it. Again, it’s inspiring and helps me focus on achieving my goals as a writer.
I have Bell’s book, Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish, and I really like it. I’m not particularly good at plotting (I’m more of a character and dialogue person), so his techniques have been helpful. It’s also just a good “writing guide” in general, with nice exercises for keeping momentum going and hitting your word count goals.
I’ve also taken a screenwriting class with Mr. Bell, and he was fantastic. So I was predisposed to like Write Your Novel from the Middle. And it’s an interesting approach to plotting and one that I’ve been using in my latest novel, 13 Treasures of Britain. It’s a short book but it has a lot of great advice.
This is not a book about writing; however, it is a book about being an artist and making money from your art. It’s also a fascinating career biography of Jim Henson, a man who is one of my personal heroes. Stevens’s basic thesis is that Jim Henson was an artist who didn’t sacrifice his art in order to make money. I enjoyed her analysis of Henson’s career, and I found her suggestions to be overall helpful and even sometimes inspirational. Again, this book is meant for artist-entrepreneurs who need to see that their dreams are possible.
This is a how-to for self-publishing digitally, but it’s also an interesting analysis of the publishing world. I didn’t realize how messed-up some things are in the traditional publishing industry (for instance, authors’ royalty rates for ebooks from traditional publishers is a lot lower than I thought it would be). The book is a how-to self-publish, but also a why-to self-publish. I really like Gaughran’s ability to explain technical things; I feel like I can manage to upload my manuscript and do all of the technical/business things necessary to launch my books. It’s laid-out nicely too, making it easy to find whatever info I need for a specific task.
(N.B.: Write. Publish. Repeat. and Let’s Get Digital can be purchased as part of a boxed set along with How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. The boxed set is called the Indie Author Power Pack, which is on sale right now for $0.99. It’s a fantastic deal for those who are interested.)
The best part about all of these ebooks (besides their wealth of information), is that they were not expensive. I’m still astounded by how much ebooks from the big publishers cost. Those who self-publish seem to have a much better handle on how much an ebook is really worth. So for not a lot of cash, I’ve been able to expand my knowledge about self-publishing and get inspiration for my art with these books.