Posted in All Articles, For young writers

10 incredibly harmful pre-publishing myths that most newbie writers still believe

On my writing journey, I tend to talk to different people. Some have already published a few books; other are only starting. While the first group is quite disilussioned about the mechanics of the publishing process, the second group is still stuck with the myths that cause a lot of disappointment later on. Today, as an author who had published before (under my real name and under pen names), I’m debunking the myths for you.

If you actually believe in any of these myths, this post is going to be painful for you. But, in my opinion, it’s better to be faced with the reality now, before you published, than discover everything AFTER you will have published.

MYTH #1 – Some authors are lucky and some just aren’t.

We all want to be like J. K. Rowling, Christopher Paolini, Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer, E. L. James… because they were “lucky”. They just wrote great books that were later discovered and they became literary stars overnight… Right? Wrong. J. K. Rowling created tension in the media before the release of each “Harry Potter” book. Christopher Paolini made countless book tours to promote “Eragon” (which was published because his parents were publishers). Stephen King tried and tried and became so profilic in one genre that it was impossible not to spot him. Stephenie Meyer had a great agent who represented her book. As for E. L. James, she had a huge target audience as her book used to be a “Twilight” fanfiction.

Rather than lucky people, I see determined people who had done all they could have done to promote their stories. If you aren’t willing to dedicate yourself to pushing your newly published book forwards, you will never become a “lucky author”.

MYTH #2 – You are special because you are an author

You wrote your book. Congratulations! It’s a huge step on your author journey. However, in eyes of publishers it doesn’t make you special at all. There are millions of people like you. On Amazon, a book gets published every 5 minutes. This is 288 books a day… 105 120 books a year. And this is only Amazon! What about Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes and other publishing houses? For you, your book is the most special thing in the world, but if you don’t fight to help it float on the sea of books, it will drown in the last pages of online catalogues.

When you publish your first book, you are entering the Colosseum. And in the Colosseum, there is a battle for life and death. There is an incredible rivalry between authors, even in the smallest niches. This is why there are so many books and so many ambitious authors behind them. Everyone wants to make it to the bestseller list, not just you. Be humble and don’t expect too much.

MYTH #3 – Authors just “get discovered”.

New authors don’t get discovered. I know that to you your book feels like the center of the world, but apart from you, nobody cares. Nobody knows who you are and why they should be reading your book (and not someone else’s). People are like monkeys, they like what’s popular already, and if you are not popular enough, nobody is going to pick your book and proclaim you as the new bestselling author.

Usually, authors who “get discovered” have been working for years for their success – by constantly publishing new works, gathering the target audience on mailing lists and social media, doing long term marketing campaigns and always seeking out opportunities to promote their work. What we see as “getting discovered” or “becoming popular overnight” is actually the result of continous effort.

MYTH #4 – The publishing house will take care of everything.

It’s difficult to get a contract with a traditional publishing houses, and small publishers are usually vanity presses whose main source of earnings aren’t the sales, but the authors’ money. Publishers will prepare your book for publishing and distribute it, however, after that, their job is finished. They won’t be actively promoting you – as they have to publish other books. I know that you think that you are a special snowflake and that they will dwell on your book for I don’t know how long, but that won’t happen.

If you want your book to become a success, you must put your own effort into gathering target audience, seeking reviewers, marketing campaigns etc.

MYTH #5 – Writing a great book is enough.

From what I have observed on my writing journey, writing a good book that fits the genre is important. However, it is not enough. Like I have already told you, nobody will discover you. There are hundreds or even thousands of books published every single day. In order for a book to really make it out there, a chain of steps must be done. People must be exposed to your book, they must learn what the book is about and why it’s worthy of writing. This is why author marketing is crucial – regardless of whether you are an indie author or you are publishing traditionally.

MYTH #6 – Your book will sell without any marketing efforts.

This is just not going to happen. See below, why.

MYTH #7 – Book will be marketed by word of mouth.

Your friends, family, teachers and neighbours won’t talk about your book to other people. Why? Because they have other things going on in their lives. They may buy your book in order to support you, but they probably won’t read it (until the end). They aren’t your target audience after all. Also, they probably won’t know that you are secretly hoping that they will talk to everyone around about your book. Another reason why “word of mouth” just doesn’t work is, even if everyone around you passes the information to a group of other people, those people probably won’t pass on the news about your book… Because it might be not in their favorite genre either.

Word of mouth works when you have published a great book in your target niche and promoted it to the target audience. The target audience is likely to retweet your posts and promote your book to target readers. However, building the connection to the target audience takes time. It took me 15 months to gather an audience of 10 000 followers on Twitter. If you haven’t started yet, do it now.

MYTH #8 – Target readers will find you on their own.

In 2015, I published “Mermaid Princess Amelia and The Lost Symphony”. I was sure that fans of mermaid books would find my book on their own and read it. Of course, it never happened. And it won’t happen in case of your book either, if you just publish it and then “forget about it”.

Target readers will find authors who actively promote themselves on online book stores, on reader groups and on social media.

MYTH #9 – You will get 5 stars only because you published.

You did your best. I know, I know. Do you think I didn’t? I read and reread and correct my first book over and over again. But I still got 1/5 stars. This is going to happen. I know that you’d like to get 5 stars instantly, but if you are only entering the book market with your new book, you don’t know the expectations of your target readers yet. You can only learn those expectations from someone who is an expert in the genre (it can be another author or an avid reader). Or, you can learn them on your own, by trial and error (which I don’t recommend). If your book doesn’t meet readers’ expectations, don’t despair. Your book is a success because you published. It’s really hard to get 5 star reviews on your first book – for real! Also because at this time you don’t have any loyal fans yet. It takes time to build a loyal fanbase. But in order to do so, you must publish – as much as you can in a short time.

MYTH #10 – Your first book will sell amazingly and you will earn great royalties.

If you are just starting out, and:

  • don’t have an audience (hint: your family, friends, teachers and neighbours don’t count as audience)
  • don’t know how to do book marketing

your book probably won’t sell well. It’s normal to sell zero copies a day. I’ll tell you more: when I ceased to market the Polish version of “Mermaid Princess Amelia…” I haven’t sold a single book during the whole year.

So… Where do we go from here?

First of all, take a deep breath. I know that it might seem now that selling a book is something that’s nearly impossible to do, but this is just not true. There are many authors out there who write for living. The difference between them and the rest is that those authors who write for living are great sellers. They have knowledge of marketing and they treat their books as product. I discussed some book marketing strategies here on Always Inspired Writing already, and I will surelly write more on the topic in the future, as I become more experienced. Keep in mind that there is a way, even though you don’t know it yet.

I hope this helps.

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Writer's life

How I fell in love with e-books after years of being a die-hard fan of paper copies

When I was younger, I was a die-hard fan of paper copies. Now, I’m a die-hard fan of e-books.

What changed?

First of all, I discovered some books I was interested in were available on Kindle only. It always takes at least a month for a paperback to arrive at my place. It’s impractical because if I want to read a book, I want to read it now, and not after a month. With e-books, I’m a few clicks away from reading, and it’s very comfortable.

Second, my grandfather had always complained that we already have too many books at home. And he was right. There is a perpetual mess in my room, because books occupy half of my wardrobes, half of my shelves, half of my desk, and the whole window sill. I wanted to throw them away, but it felt somewhat heretic.

I planned to give them out, but: antique shops already have too many books, orphanages want new books only, and libraries need classics. An option would be selling books online, but this requires more effort and patience that anyone would think: take one book, make photos of it, put it away, then take another book… It’s a great solution if you have 10 books not sell, and not 300.

After you’ve read the book, it becomes more or less useless. Yes, you can go back to it, but how many times can you read the same thing over and over again? 3? 4?

What’s worse, I often bought books and never read them. The cover was better than the content, or I had bought another ambitious books that wasn’t what I truly wanted to read. Money was spent, space was taken, the book was getting dusty on my shelf. “I’ll read it one day”. Of course. When is “one day”? Probably never.

In 2017, I moved to China. China cured me from buying paper copies. I am fluent in Chinese, but I’ve always spent little time with characters, hence, I can’t read that well. Also, books are always written with a literary language, which means slightly different grammar – and in Chinese, it does make a difference.

This helped me discover the pros of e-books:

  • I can take them with me wherever I’m going.
  • They don’t take space neither on my shelf, nor in my luggage.
  • I can read them on any device – not just on the Kindle reader.
  • There are many more e-books available online than there are paperbacks in local bookshops, which means a greater choice – and a greater exposure to indie authors, who are given equal chances in this way.
  • My virtual shelf is private, I can read whatever I please without feeling judged for it.
  • I can always buy ebooks in my preferred language, even when I am in another country.
  • I can start reading immediately after purchase.
  • E-books are much cheaper than paperbacks. I can buy 5-10 e-books for the price of one paperback.
  • E-books are often available for free.
  • E-books are ecological (no more cutting trees for paper!).

And now pros of e-books for authors:

Of course, if you have the possibility to release your book both in the digital format and in the e-book format, you should go for it. It’s not a mystery that books with more formats available sell better.

E-books have their cons as well – they are way easier to pirate than paperbacks. However, new laws are introduced to protect creators (and their earnings). I think that it would be a real pity to miss out on what e-books have to offer, just for fear of pirates. Also, I’ve noticed that more and more people are actually willing to buy e-books; because e-books are so cheap now, that nearly everyone can afford them.

What do you think about e-books? Or are you still for paper copies? Let me know in the comments!

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Writer's problems

How to cope when your friend writes better than you?

Ever felt jealous of your friend who seems to be much more talented at writing then you? Ever questioned your own skills after reading what they had written? Ever wondered if you can ever get to their level, and how? If yes, then this article is for you.

Being in this situation might not feel so great, but it is a blessing in disguise. Here is why:

  • You see area for improvement.
  • You know what exactly work on.
  • You can observe that person’s techniques.
  • You can ask that person for help directly.
  • It’s a great way to motivate yourself to level up.

If you feel envious about your friend writing better than you, it’s probably because you don’t believe that you can achieve that level of skill.

If this is the case, ask yourself why you doubt yourself right now.

Maybe they are older than you, or more experienced, or have been writing in your chosen language since ever. If yes, then you can’t blame yourself for the fact that they are ahead of you.

You have assets that they don’t have, even if you aren’t aware of it. Maybe your travels are allowing you to set your story in several different places, or maybe your everyday job as a teacher is helping you meet many potential readers for your book. Who knows?

If they are your age and in a similar situation, and you think that they are better because they have more talent, then maybe you should read this free article: Where does talent come from? Why isn’t it a prerequisite for success?

It is also possible that they are working in a different way that you do. Ask yourself, what are they doing that I am not doing?

I will give you an example from Rachel’s life. Rachel had a friend with whom they both did digital anime-style art, just that the friend was way more popular. What that friend did differently than Rachel, was:

  • drawing free art for everyone who asked for it;
  • going to anime conventions to meet more people in the niche;
  • asking the newly met people in the niche to like her page on social media;
  • organizing a national drawing contest;
  • signing up to new anime-style art groups to meet even more people;

Are you surprised now that she was more popular than everyone else? Because I’m not! She had a strategy, unlike everyone else. And what strategy does your friend have? In writing, in publishing, in marketing? 

A person who is doing better than us, is a gift for us, so that we can learn from them how to move forwards. 

If we stay envious, we are wasting a great gift given to us by the universe.

When I was in college, I’ve met two people who were exactly what I wanted to be at the time. I looked at their lifestyles and made a choice to live their way, and even though we parted later, I am happy that we met, because they helped me reach an inner truth about whom I wanted to become.

So – if your friend is better than you, observe, and learn from them. And always, always be respectful. There is nothing sadder than taking out your frustration on someone who never did anything bad to you, just because you can’t deal with your own envy. I wrote more about the importance of fair play in this free article.

I hope this helps!

Stay inspired.

Posted in About Always Inspired Writing, All Articles

A quick update on recent changes on Always Inspired Writing

Hi! Today, a quick update on recent changes on Always Inspired Writing, that will help you navigate the page more easily.

  • New domain – from now on you can access Always Inspired Writing using the link
  • Two content sections – so far only the free content section was available. Now, the member content section is available as well. The member content section currently contains 41 articles in 8 categories. You can take a look at the member content section using this link, however, the articles can be read only by registered members.
  • Member content section – New member articles are updated weekly, just like free articles. Member articles are always marked with a diamond sign in the front [✧] and available in the member content section only. In this way, you won’t confuse them with free articles. Member content categories are also marked with the diamond sign [✧]. I am really sorry about spamming your dashboard recently, but apparently it’s not that easy to publish articles without triggering the reader and e-mail notifications.
  • About BETA membership – Originally, I planned to launch the membership registration after preparing 100 articles. However, I realized that 41 articles is already a lot, and hence, I decided I’d start the BETA membership that will work until I can start the normal membership with 100 articles as base. Registering as a BETA member costs 11$/month. Registering as normal member will be available from April 2019, when the 100 member articles are published and the BETA membership ends. Those who sign up for the BETA membership in January, February or March will receive 20% discount for the normal membership registration later – just remember to send me an e-mail using the askbox! If you would like to sign up for the BETA membership to gain immediate access to a base of 41 member articles, click here!
  • Free content section – The free articles will be updated as usual, 2-3 times a week. The list of them can be accessed using this link. Free articles will always be free and available without registration.
  • Ask for advice – If you would like me to write an article on a specific topic that you have trouble with, please use the askbox. Asking is free and the articles based on your ideas will be free as well. I currently don’t get any asks, so please don’t be shy and tell me what you struggle with so that I can help!

It’s everything for now. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in comments under this post!

Stay inspired!