Thanks to the generosity of authors I support on, The Virtual Bookcase, I receive free ebooks (and the odd paperback, and one gorgeous hardback – image in this post). They are purely gifts from grateful recipients of a showcase. I state on the site I do not review, so there is no expectation of a returned favour on their part. I read them only for personal pleasure. As such, the vast variety of genre I feature means I read a wide range of books, (still not sure about the zombies).
When I first embarked upon my writing journey over five years ago, I absorbed, copied, pasted, quoted, read, re-read, articles about creative writing. I followed a million bloggers all writing about the craft. I attended online workshops and courses, and came across many conflicting ideas and snippets of advice. Each year I gleaned new information only to find it clashed with the ideas of another writer. That particular style was now out of date. This meant each book I received I read as if I should critique, to find out the majority within styles.
I found it frustrating if a writer had gone against what I learned, what I had been told was the “new” way. After a few years of reading in this manner, I began to notice differences, certain writers did not follow a pattern book after book. Styles were changing. Researching their background I found many were Indie/Self-published.
I was also reading that self-published authors should be scorned for their failure to gain an agent/publisher, and they were following the easy route. I read I would be cheated out of a polished read if I spent money on their books. Slowly it sunk in, those differences I’d noticed – they were the author’s individual voice. They’d had the courage to relax into their story enough to give it personality. They did not conform with rigid guidelines – some folk ended sentences with a preposition *gasp*.
This is where my life as a writer and reader took a new path. We parted ways.
Writer Me, started letting go of rigid ties that bound me. I needed to break free, to write sentences and chapters the length my characters wanted them. I needed to find a style unique to me; my voice. Even if it meant ending a sentence against lessons taught, so. be. it.
After a while, Reader Me, began to relax and soaked up the stories without focusing upon them as a lesson on how to write. I truly began to read for pleasure again.
There has been a boom in self-publishing since I started my writing venture and I am thrilled to be in the thick of it all. The doors are opening a little wider. Readers, like myself, began to embrace the story, the style, and author. They forgave the odd typo, stating on their blogs, they’d found several in traditional published books, too. Now, Indie authors unite around the world, and we are proud of our achievements. We bring freshness to stale ideas, community of support, and freedom to choose. To choose how we write, how to merge genres and bend rules. Granted, many rules should be followed, I am not saying all should be broken or ignored, just those that can be tweaked, let’s do it!
This week I took my Indie self to a new level. I learned more about creating book covers. I am brain-frazzled but determined. In the past my covers have been created by, Jen Moon (Heather Woods), and Dieter Moitz. This time I had a reason to try and go it alone.
I wanted to use a photograph that means a lot to me. It is the coastline across the road from my family home. This picture was taken on my return to UK, and I spend hours gaining inspiration along this particular spot. It was a favourite place for my father to walk with us, and he saved us from the flooded salt creeks that filter off from the sea, when the tide turned and we were cut off from land. He piggy-backed us across the dike. My hero. Another reason I wanted to use this image is that it is the same spot where my character, Elle Buchanan, looks out upon each morning. She paints along this stretch of beach, and … no, I won’t add any spoilers.
I knew the style I wanted for the cover, I could see it clearly in my head. This time, I wanted it to be influence free. I adore my other covers, and gain many compliments, this time however, I wanted to add my personal style.
When the book launches, it will be by a local author about the area. I need to have confidence to state my right to use artistic licence. I know folk will want to tell me my facts are incorrect. I am 99% certain they won’t be but there will be a 1% historical twist that will not satisfy one reader. I must not become tongue-tied with responses when I give my first talk. I want to be able to set out by showing off the cover, and of how much my home means to me by using the image. Another creator would want to adapt the style, they would want to add a sprinkle of their imagination, and while they would do an amazing job, I want to break free for one time.
I would break the heart of one creator, make another cringe by use of font or colour but for once, I am not “jotting that down”. Like mixing my genre, historical romance suspense, I have mixed my book layers to the point of a style not akin to, Andy Warhol. However, it is my own style! If you look closely, or can enlarge it, you will see it is set upon a painted canvas. I struggled with writing in the sand one way, so it went seaward instead, but I got there, I created the picture in my head!
In my books I now use !, I never did. I was taught not to use them. I was told for each one after you have used seven, a kitten dies. I cannot bear the thought of killing kittens, so still use them sparingly! But I have altered my style to suit. The frustrated writer within, approves.
Writer Me and Reader Me, have stopped battling. We both follow our own path and find life more enjoyable. Lately, I have taken to reading 1* reviews of books by other authors, on Amazon. If I find they have been reprimanded for style and error, I purchase if the price is right. Only once have I thought maybe the reviewer was correct. Interestingly, it was a short story by a very well-known author, traditionally published, who had struck out as an Indie.
I would never leave critique styled reviews. I am in no position to critique an author’s style or ability to write. They, like me, grow and learn along the way – every writer does, regardless of how they are published.
The point of this rambling post? If you are struggling with all the information out there, stop. Go and write what you want, how you want. Get it out of your system. If you want to be published in the traditional manner, follow the rules of construction by looking at the submissions page of a well-known agent/publisher. Don’t be blinded by those who have become mind-boggled like me, go to the top and read what they have to say. Don’t sit around hoping for a publishing deal, find courage, get out there and become an Independent Author( join ALLi – click badge). It is liberating.
You can still submit to agents and publishers, even if your work is already selling on Amazon or Smashwords. Find the joy in writing again, the reason why you set out to do it in the first place. Sit and enjoy a book the way the author wants you to, by reading it for pleasure. Lose yourself in their story, just as you hope they will do the same in yours. Find the joy in your craft once more!