I have to admit, since the beginning of September – I have been swamped! In a good way, of course. With the new NFL season underway, I have had to put on a couple of different ‘hats’. The main one is the ‘writer beanie’, but in addition, I have been doing a ton of reading for other authors, writing reviews, setting up an anthology, preparing a new digital magazine just for independent writers and the sports reporter helmet complete with facemask and mouth guard, lol.
The housekeeping is mainly keeping myself on task, making sure I haven’t missed any deadlines and leaving one eye on my email.
Being an independent journalist that covers American football has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but it isn’t all roses. Contrary to popular beliefs (mainly held by fans), it doesn’t make me rich. It’s hard work. It is also fun, frustrating and eye-opening. I admit, some days it is hard to stay objective when my favorite team doesn’t do well and I have to write a downer article. I love it when they win.
Writing as an independent author is a bit like managing a football team. Your social media presence is a bit like the front office and PR department, but also similar to an offensive line. You use it to protect your work and you as a writer (quarterback) but also put it out there by getting a good block going. That blocking up front sets you up for success or failure, so put your best players (social media presence, readers, fans, other authors that network with you) up there.
Your running backs and receivers are typically the things that keep your writing career and stories from stalling. They carry and catch the ball (your individual written works), setting up the next play until you make a touchdown (reach your goals).
If you find yourself on defense (fielding bad reviews, dealing with depression or writer’s block), get your defensive line (a personal mission or mantra that lifts your spirits and gets you back on track) in there and push back against the opposition. Your linebackers tackle the hardest issues while your cornerbacks and safeties cover your backside so things don’t get out of control. The idea on defense is to ‘flip the field’, returning your team (you and those who support your efforts) back on the field.
Opponents come in different shapes, sizes and with a different set of challenges. Use good scouting (prepare ahead of time with a good plan A, B and C if necessary) to combat their attempts to move the ball in their favor. You may face a blitz (an onslaught of rejections). You may see one of their strongest players break out a long play (think big publishing houses working against your independent career). They may have a quarterback (your biggest rival or detractor) that is wily enough to keep you on your toes a lot.
The goal is to succeed. That leads to a win. How you determine what that is is really up to you. Step up and coach yourself to success.
Now that I have given you plenty of football analogies, let me tell you how this has applied for me as of late.
- My first book is very short and has received mixed sales and reviews.
- People I thought would jump at the chance to read it are too busy or are more interested in print copies than digital ebooks.
- Critical advice has often been more critical than constructive.
My goal with my first book was to introduce readers to a different kind of writing than they have typically seen from me. Most of my potential readers were folks who read my sports articles, interviews and stories. Some are having a hard time transitioning from real world events to my fantasy world. Although this has been challenging, I realize that it may take a bit more time and patience from me before I can convince them that my fiction can generate the same excitement as a post-game article following a big win.
“PrinceFall” was short on purpose. Because I am writing to a broad audience (from young adult to mature adults), I felt an introduction into my fantasy world would be more easily consumed in a smaller, snack-sized package. Young adults tend to find long books difficult to stick with, and let’s face it, mature adults are so consumed today with work and other activities that they often do not have hours and hours to spend reading books. It’s a sad state of modern life that reading has lost some of its entertainment value due to the hectic lives we lead. Involved readers are generally those who love it so much they will make time to sit down and escape for a bit into a story.
While I absolutely LOVE interacting with people, some have given me some harsh insights. Helpful statements are often replaced with just plain rudeness. I don’t mind criticism about my work when it is constructive because it pushes me to improve. Name-calling isn’t helpful and seems to reflect that many readers/people are just discouraged in general with life. To me, that is a clue that they need to find time to escape into a bit of written word where the world of the book can free them. It’s why I chose fantasy as a genre. In a fantasy world, anything is possible. I am not advocating escapism, but I do believe human beings need a release. That is also why I chose to write without using unnecessary details like cursing and graphic scenes.
To wrap this up…
I am already into a second draft of book two, “Maelstrom”, and it will be longer, richer and more detailed. I have also produced the first three bonus material items that will give readers more insight into the world I have set my stories in. The first item is an introduction to the Lohi, a people in my story that are introduced at the end of ” PrinceFall”. In addition to this, I have spent a great deal of time learning a bit of cartography and some digital magic to provide interactive maps and reader fun. My hope is to expand the opportunity for readers to experience a place they can visit and get away from the grind, so to speak.
The hats I’ve been wearing look absolutely ridiculous when they are all perched on my head, virtually, at the same time but, I admit they keep me focused on the important things and too busy to get into any real trouble.
If you have signed up for my newsletter, expect an email next week. If you haven’t signed up, feel free to do so. I will use it to give out the details on how to enter the world of “PrinceFall/KingRise” and obtain the bonus material PLUS a giveaway!
And to you Indies out there — keep going. To the authors that allowed me to read your work, reviews are on their way and I look forward to speaking with you about your work. To my readers, I hope you find time to sit down and delve into a book now and then. To the Pittsburgh Steelers, my NFL team and the one I cover as a journalist most often, #HereWeGo and let’s get a bunch of WINS!