I’m the newest addition on the staff. Yes, you can call me Val, everyone does even though when they ask if I prefer Valerie, and say yes, they still call me Val. So I’ve given up. *grins* Just call me Val.
Wow, what a weird wonderful year it’s been. At this time last year I didn’t even know this weird guy named Stephen Hise.
I was still publishing through a small press back then – in fact, my latest would be coming out in a few weeks – and I’d learned a lot from them but they hadn’t proved to be the boost to my writing career as I’d hoped. I had eleven or so novels in my back pocket written over the span of years that weren’t going anywhere. No, I won’t tell you how old I am. Let’s just say I remember assassinations and moon landings. Now, you have to understand that I’m a bit of a perfectionist – it comes from having a German (second generation) engineer for a father. He was also a Gemini, kind of cool and intellectual. But I digress. So I mined the internet, gathering every bit of information I could find on improving my writing, creating a pretty comprehensive list of all the standard mistakes writers make. I attended conventions (fortunately a big one was held here in Columbus Uhioh *that’s how they pronounce it here*.). I wrote and rewrote query letters. I had gotten close – an agent who actually called me at home on a Saturday – then backed away. A request for a full from a major publishing house…who then took over a year to let me know they weren’t taking my manuscript. (Truth be told, I’d already given up on them and sold it to my small press publisher – it was the one just coming out.)
It was getting pretty frustrating. I had self-published a book in print form – I really wanted to hold a book of my own in my hand before I died – but the whole e-book revolution was just taking off. Kindles were out, the Nook was coming out in color… I was seeing lots of fairy tales and scare stories about Indie publishing. (Don’t self publish, real publishers won’t take you. Self-publishing is just vanity publishing. Most self-publishers don’t make any money.) However I still had those novels languishing in my back pocket – good work, especially two or three of them – and they weren’t going anywhere. What did I have to lose…So I took a gamble. Sitting down to work, using everything I’d learned, I polished up two of my novellas and one of my favorite fantasy novels. I already knew how to create book trailers from my days with my publisher, then I learned how to create covers, and wrote blogs on both. I went to Smashwords and read the Style Guide, learned how to format my books and put them up. Being something of a computer nerd, I surfed the web looking for help but there wasn’t much out there. Just a few groups, one of which was a group called Book Junkies, where I met this Stephen Hise guy, who seemed pretty cool. Thank heavens for some of them, they kept me sane those first few months.
Even so, there wasn’t much help for new authors out there. I was seeing a lot of crap writing, but hearing that there were people who wanted to do better. So I created my own group, Indie Authors Group, with the idea that it would just be about writing. Good writing. Once I got everyone to stop spamming the freakin’ page it started to go pretty well. (Seriously, folks, that stuff just does not work!) I took my list of DON’Ts…common mistakes most writers make and added it, along with the info on creating trailers and covers. Gradually the group took off. Then Stephen created this thing called Indies Unlimited. Well, I’m all about supporting Indie writers.
A year later… I have fourteen books out and I’m doing pretty well with them. I’ve made mistakes, learned from them and moved on.
So, what will I bring to the table? Other than my rapier wit? *grins* I’ve been both traditionally published and self-published, so I can see both sides clearly and honestly. (No, indie publishing isn’t for everyone… just most.) I’ll be offering advice on how to write better, and the occasional reality check. (Author: “I’ve written a book and now I’ll be rich and famous. Me: “Oh, sweetie…no… I doesn’t quite work like that… That’s the easy part.) Sometimes I’ll be snarky, sometimes funny (I hope) but always trying to help and support Indie writers.