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 life

Should authors make New Year’s resolutions?

My dear friends, today is a very special day! It’s the day of our 50th article on Always Inspired Writing! Thank you for all your likes, comments and subscriptions! It’s motivating me to write more! And I hope that next year, we will reach 100 articles!

* * *

Next year, I’ll write my book. Or, I’ll sell my book. I will lose weight and become world’s most attractive writer!

Then, the next year comes. We run out of steam in the middle of our new book, and apparently getting huge sales isn’t as easy as it seems (we’ve all been there, huh!). On top of that, we gain weight in December. The internet honks that 63% of UK adults in 2014 failed to keep their resolutions and this is really discouraging.

Still, I strongly believe that we writers need New Year’s Resolutions and should make at least 3-5 of them each year.

Why? Well, if we want to get somewhere with our writing, we must constantly strive to be better. And how are we supposed to get better if we don’t decide in which direction we need to go at the beginning of our new race?

Everything changes constantly, and each year opens new doors. Behind these new doors are new rooms to explore, and these new rooms might bring new ideas, truths and knowledge, that will change our path towards something better. For this reason, I recommend setting areas in which we would like to improve, rather than number specific goals.

For example:

  • I want to sell 100 books -> I want to sell more books.
  • I want to publish this particular book on Amazon -> I want to publish anything on Amazon.
  • I want to get 10 author friends -> I want to become friends with more authors.

In this way, we are making a commitment to improve in general. With these kinds of goals, it’s hard to fail. I think that this is a better option than setting unattainable goals and later getting frustrated about them. It’s easier to climb the mountain at our own pace, focusing on the path, rather than looking at the peak, and wondering “how will I get there?”

This year, I’ve met 8 of my 14 goals. I think that this it not a bad score. New Year is approaching again, and it’s a great chance to keep some goals and discard others.

A goal that I want to keep is reading books. I failed miserably at reading this particular year, probably because I’ve spent nearly all my time on writing, blogging, pen-name work, distribution and marketing.

A goal that I want to discard is writing “Cassidy”. “Cassidy” is a spin-off of the mermaid series that I plan to write and publish in the next 5-7 years. “Cassidy” can’t be published before the series is complete, hence, it’s out of the priority plan for a very long time.

To our list of resolutions we should add “New Year’s eggs”.

Especially that I achieved many other things that I am proud of, that weren’t on my resolution list. I call these “New Year’s eggs”.

It’s a term I coiled for other achievements that weren’t on our resolution list, but are our successes. Example: a guy goes persistently to the gym in order to lose weight. At the end of the year, he discovers that he built stunning shoulders. While “losing weight” is a resolution, “stunning shoulders” are “New Year’s eggs” – an unexpected blessing.

For me, the “New Year’s eggs” were building an audience on Twitter, writing 50 articles on Always Inspired Writing and becoming a publisher. Nothing I expected, but I’m proud of it nevertheless.

Did you complete many resolutions this year? What were your New Year’s eggs for 2018?

Happy 2019! I hope that it brings you much inspiration, new books, great sales, more readers, awesome reviews and overnight success! Stay inspired!

Posted in Writer's life

Are you a workaholic writer?

The end of the year fatigue is real… especially for workaholic writers.

10 signs you are a workaholic writer:

  1. You usually spend more than 80% of your free time on your writing work.
  2. You sacrifice something (meetings with friends, binge watching TV shows) in order to do writing work.
  3. You do writing work on weekends.
  4. You do writing work even if you are burn out.
  5. The four above have been going on for months.
  6. You tell everyone you will take a break, but you do the writing work anyways (silently).
  7. You tell everyone you will take a break, and everyone is either surprised or says “you really deserve it”.
  8. If you don’t do the writing work, you get anxious.
  9. Sometimes, you are not quite sure why you always racing forwards like this, but you can’t stop.
  10. Joy from reaching goals is only temporary, as a new, greater goal is waiting behind the corner.

Does any of them sound like you?

If yes, then you are probably a workaholic writer. Watch out for creative burnout – it might happen to you in no time.

There are several reasons why writers become workaholics. I’ve listed some of them:

  1. Pressure to show everyone who didn’t believe in you, that you can.
  2. A belief that once you become famous/successful/rich, people will love you.
  3. A need to escape the real world, which isn’t anything special at the moment.
  4. Pressure to become a full time author as soon as possible, so that you can quit your job.
  5. A desire to finally finish writing your newest book, so as to publish it before the end of the year.
  6. A wish to do better with marketing this, than the last time, and actually sell some books.

I think that workaholism is tightly connected to meaning in life.

Workaholics put the work on pedestal, because work is what has most meaning in their lives.

This might be the result of a stern upbringing and having to “earn” love.

But it may also be the result of a disappointing life situation. We’ve all been let down by our lovers, friends and family members. Money comes and goes,  but work is a constant. There is always something to do: extra homework, dishes to wash, e-mails to answer. And new chapters to write. The Law Of Attraction, about which I write more in detail here, states that the more we focus on something, the more of it we will attract.

The internet is full of stupid and worthless articles on how workaholics can help themselves. Examples include “get out”, “play”, “exercise”. When you really have a problem with workaholism, and somebody tells you to play, you will just shrug your shoulders. You won’t go out to play WHEN THERE IS SO MUCH WORK TO DO, will you?

I’ve already written somewhere that we should all try to work smarter, rather than harder. But working smarter isn’t always that easy, especially when there is a lot of quack advice on the internet. For example, there are thousands of people who claim that they earned a fortune on the internet by affiliate marketing, or answering surveys. I’ve tried it, and, it isn’t as easy as it turns out. Most surveys are already solved when you open the e-mail link with them. And to even qualify for affiliate marketing (not to mention any sales!) you need a strong website with real traffic in the niche. It can be done, but definitely not quickly, and effort must be put into that.

Working smarter often includes spending money on services rather than doing everything yourself.

Learning to delegate is something that requires trust. Workaholics are people who often worry that others won’t be able to do the work as well as them. But, they need to understand that others also have valuable skills and deserve to be given a chance. This is one of the challenges that workaholics must overcome.

Another challenge is setting boundaries that work for you.

In general, I don’t think that writing a lot is a bad thing. If you enjoy it, if it makes you feel good, well – it’s not like you can get physically sick from it (like from drinking too much coffee or smoking too much).

Consider this: most people are able to swim vigorously for an hour. But for olympic swimmers, an hour is just a warm-up: they spend around 4 hours in the swimming pool each day.

Maybe you are an olympic writer, and spending so much time on doing writing work feels right to you. The important thing though, is for you to learn to recognize your limits and push them slowly.

If you feel you are doing too much, slow down. If you are a person who likes spending their time actively, choose something that you haven’t done for a while. Alternating between tasks will help you take a rest from one, and do the other with pleasure. I wrote about this here: A lesson from agriculture: why writing multiple things at once is a good idea.

I hope this helps. Stay inspired!

Posted in For young writers, All Articles, Writer's life

What to do when nobody believes in your writing dream?

“I will be an author,” I declared as a 9 year old. Did anybody take me seriously? I doubt it. At the time, I planned to be an artist, and actress, and a witch. Oh, and date Harry Potter.

“I will be an author,” I repeated as a 13 year old.But writing is very hard,” my Polish teachers told me, “you need a lot of knowledge“. ‘Ok,’ I thought to myself, ‘I will become a librarian when I am an adult. In this way, I will be able to read many books and maybe write one.”

“I will be an author,” I told my father as a 16 year old.An author? Yes, you can be an author, but you are not going to earn on it. Get a more realistic job.” I felt hurt by these words, but I kept writing nevertheless.

“I have become an author,” I thought to myself as a 21 year old, when I wrote and published my first novel in a vanity press. “M. R. Foti hides behind a pen name, but this won’t save her,” wrote one of my readers, “she is a mediocre author“.

“I am a failed author,” I believed as a 22 year old. I didn’t have any audience, hasn’t sold a single copy of my first novel in 10 months, and my second novel was rejected by all publishers. “If I give up, it’s going to break my heart. I’m already broken by life. I can’t give up on my dream to be a writer, I can’t, no matter what,” I told myself.

“I’m either gonna succeed as an author, or die trying,” I decided as a 23 year old. I started reading blogs by Joanna Penn, Jeff Goins and Michal Stawicki. I actually wrote an e-mail to Michal Stawicki, who kindly replied and encouraged me to try my luck on Amazon. I stopped waiting for traditional publishers to acknowledge me and let go of the “paperback-in-libraries” dream. I started writing in English, committed to building an international audience, and launched Always Inspired Writing.

You will be famous one day,” I heard as a 24 year old. You have so much talent. I am sure that you are going to make it. You just need time. Keep writing, because you must write, there is no other way for you.

So what to do when nobody believes in your writing dream?

Believe in it yourself.

If you check my social media, or even this blog, you’ll see that I always like my own posts. I am my own fan, and I will always be.

It really doesn’t matter what age you are, or how good you are at writing, or how bad. The only thing that matters is how bad you want it. If you want it really bad, you will structure your whole life so that you can work for it. And once you work for it persistently and ignore your failures, you will start succeeding.

There were so many people that didn’t believe in me. My friends, my teachers, even my husband. “You know,” he told me one evening, “in the beginning, I didn’t quite believe in your writing. But after I’ve met you, and saw how dedicated you were… I changed my mind. I am waiting for you to succeed, and I wish you all the best.”

When I was younger and somebody didn’t believe in me, I was sad and doubted myself. But then, then I thought, “Screw you. I’m gonna show you. I’m gonna show everyone. You don’t believe in me? Just wait and see.”

If you read the Ultimate Manifester, where I am much more personal than on Always Inspired Writing, you’ll learn that I’ve been fighting depression for 7 years. It started at age 17 and never actually went away. When you are depressed for so long, it really shapes you and your way of thinking. Why am I telling you so suddenly about this in here?

Because I want you to know, that it wasn’t easy for me to believe in myself, others and the world in general. If you knew me personally, you’d know I always have tons of doubts and question everything that I’m told. But I cared about writing so much, that I just forced myself to believe in it unconditionally.

With time, my writing dream became stronger than my depression.

There are days when I’m swimming in total darkness. But I still get up, wash my face, dress up, eat. I know I have to keep going. For the people around me, and for the writing dream. When the electric lights of my soul go out, my writing dream is like a spare candle, which makes everything brighter.

I know that there will be low sales, bad reviews, hateful comments and other nightmares. But, the love for my characters and their stories is giving me strength, and pushing me to do what I can each and every day.

Your writing dream is a small seed with the potential to grow into a powerful tree.

For this reason, you must take care of it. Water it regularly, fight pests and protect it from cold. Why? Because if you let others step on your writing dream, and trust that it’s never going to come true, you will finally stop believing in it and let it go.

Sometimes I’m walking quietly in the desert, when hounds of depression appear out of nowhere. I’m running away to my tree, and climb it. I am not powerless anymore; for the strength of my tree is with me.

Your writing dream has the potential to shield you from reality, and sometimes, we need that more than anything else. For this reason, ignore the people who don’t believe in your writing dream, and help it grow into something amazing.

I hope this helps, stay inspired.

Posted in All Articles, Writer's life

My friend wrote a mediocre book. Should I give them 5 stars just because I like them?

Your favorite writing buddy with whom you could chat all night long finally sends you their novel. You start reading and… 

No, it’s not appalling. Writers who are really serious about their writing put so much effort in their works, that it’s impossible for them to release something appalling. But, judging a book as mediocre isn’t any better. It means: “I liked this, but that ruined it completely. The overall effect is not truly impressive.”

Your writing buddy is waiting to get your feedback, hoping you will praise them. They take praise as a form of support. They also had people who didn’t believe they could. They also had people who made them lonely. They see someone important in you, and so they gave you their book, praying for you to validate their talent, their story, their journey.

If you say the truth, you might lose their trust. They will stop believing that you have their best interest at heart. It’s like you told a fellow parent that their child is not very smart, or lacks manners. Even if you think like that, you don’t want to say it, for the sake of the friendship.

If you lie and praise a book you hated, it will have consequences. Your friend will continue sending you their flawed writing, and they will never improve. Because they won’t know where they should improve. They don’t see their book the way that you see it.

Whether to tell the truth or stay silent is a huge dilemma faced by lots of authors every single day. For this reason, I chose to write an article about it.

In general, the best option would be to avoid these sorts of situations. For example, if the book is not in your genre, explain that to your friend. Pass their book to someone else, and if you don’t know anyone, then just promote it on your website or social media. It’s just a few clicks and later you can delete the post.

If you already landed yourself in this sort of situation, where a friends waits for you to review their mediocre book, here are my suggestions:

STEP ONE: Do not trash talk them in public.

The book sucked? Okay, maybe it did. Which doesn’t mean that you have to suck as a friend and write about it online. You will chase your friends’ future readers away, and that is a horrible thing to do to another author. If you have to write them a review because they are your friend, try to give them a good rating – if you can’t give 5 stars, give 4, and if you can’t give them 4, don’t leave any rating. If you leave a 1-3/5 star review to your friend, you are showing them that you value your own opinion more than them and their dream – and that you are not wishing them well (because you are basically telling their future readers, ‘stay away from this book!’). Follow the savoir-vivre and refrain from reviewing your friend’s book online if you really dislike it. Readers will figure out anyway if it’s good or not.

STEP TWO, OPTION A: If you know that writer well, talk about the problems behind closed doors. 

And start with the positives. Say, “I liked the setting, the atmosphere, the characters. But. I think that you need to work on … . If I was writing about it, I would…”. Be very delicate and use your words really wisely. People are incredibly easy to hurt. Always assume that you are talking to someone incredibly sensitive. Reread your message before sending and think about how  you would feel.

STEP TWO, OPTION B: If you don’t know the writer well: help them silently. 

I do believe in honesty between authors, but if you have just met them, the bond between you is very fragile. If at the beginning of friendship you will tell them that they did this, and that, wrong, they are not going to like you. They might think that you are envious of their book or want to lower their self esteem. For this reason, talking openly in here is not the best idea. You should help them, but do it in a different way: for example, if they are struggling with character development, wait some time, and then send them articles on how to create better characters.

Final thoughts:

  • WHY DO PEOPLE SEND THEIR BOOKS TO FRIENDS?

From my own observations: usually, if people are showing you something, they are not interested in your ‘honest opinion’. Instead, they want to be praised or validated. We all know that joke about the wife who had already chosen the color of the dress (purple), but asks her husband for opinion, and when he says green, she gets angry. Cause she hoped that the answer would be purple.

Same is with authors. Why are we giving out our books? Because we want people to love them, not hate them. If you knew someone hated your book, would you send it to them? Probably not.

  • WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE OUR FRIENDS’ BOOKS?

Two years ago, I started a review blog about classical literature. I decided I would read Booker Prize. I rated the first book 4/5 stars. The second one got 3/5 stars. Was it bad? For me yes, for Booker Prize jury – of course not. We all have different opinions. Who is right? Who is wrong? Nobody knows! Everyone’s perspective is different! I might think that that Booker Prize book was horrible, but was it really, or was it me who couldn’t appreciate it, because, for example, I wasn’t the target reader, of I know too little about literature?

  • WHO SAID THAT ALL PIECES OF ART MUST ADHERE TO THE SAME RULES?

Writing is not mathematics, it’s art. Does art have to stick up to all rules that are out there to be appreciated? Not really.

  • ARE MINE AND THAT AUTHOR’S GOALS THE SAME?

Maybe the characters are flat because my friend can’t write them… Or maybe, maybe my friend did them like this on purpose, cause they wanted to make them universal.

Maybe the descriptions are dull. Maybe without them, the story would be too fast paced and impossible to read in one run…

Who knows what they were thinking when writing?

  • SHOULD WE TEAM WITH AUTHORS AGAINST READERS, OR WITH READERS AGAINST AUTHORS?

Again, this is a very subjective question. To me, supporting a friend in their writing career is more important than proclaiming what I think is the Ultimate Truth. Especially when I know that what is the Ultimate Truth for me, might be very subjective and even false in a broader context.

What are your opinions on this big dillemma? Share them in the comments below this post! Thank you!

And last but not least… related articles: