Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Indie Author Journey: Guest Post by Author Sherry Soule

In the middle of a whole lot of debate about traditional vs. indie publishing, we thought we would check in with one of our favorite indie authors, Sherry Soule, and ask her to share her thoughts. Timing-wise, it couldn't be better because she has a fabulous new book out, Lost In Starlight, which we highly recommend.

The Indie Author Journey
by  author Sherry Soule

When I was growing up, the only thing I ever dreamed about was being a professional writer. Today Amazon sent me an email inviting me to create an author page. This probably sounds lame to some people, but it’s an exciting step to me. My own official author page! I realize for self-published and indie authors that it’s an on-going struggle to get your books out into the world, and hopefully make some money in the process.
Like every writer, I am incredibly passionate about my work. The main reason I write is because I love to do it. Not for the money. No, because I love creating characters. I love crafting suspense. And I love telling stories—my kind of stories.
Writing has always been my true passion. This was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to publish novels. I dreamed of being a professional author since I was seven years old, and I enjoy writing both adult and young adult tales.
Best-selling author, Tracy Hickman was quoted as saying, Don’t seek to be published, seek to be read.”
Simple words. Great advice. It made so much sense. Write for your readers. Write what you love. Write every day and don’t give up.
Our dreams should give us wings. Let us fly. Soar above the clouds. And we should never, ever have to look down. Right?
Being a voracious reader all of my life, I believe my writing style differs from the other young adult paranormals being published; because my stories tend to have elements of chilling suspense weaved into the plot. Nor are my stories always focused primarily on “love.” But there is a lot of kissing!
Yet I do write about people who fall in love under unusual circumstances. Not because I like a conventional happy ending—no, I write about love because I believe it’s the strongest human emotion we possess. And sometimes my character’s choices don’t get them a happy ending. Sometimes the endings are surprising. Sometimes bittersweet. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger. But I hope they are never boring or too predictable.

How did I start?
Well, like I said, I’ve been writing since I was seven. I’ve written a lot of books over the years. Yeah, a lot of bad books, too. I went to college, but mostly took creative writing and English classes. I couldn’t go full-time because I had a family to look after, but I did take various writing courses for the past ten years.
To be honest, I’ve tried three times in my life to find a literary agent, aka the gatekeepers to the publishing world, without success. I’ve even had a few prominent agencies request my work. Looking back, I know what I did wrong. I didn’t have any critique partners. The manuscript wasn’t tightened up and polished. I didn’t hire a freelance editor. I thought it was good. Well, it sucked. Hence, the multiple rejections. Which also sucked.
I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope I have.
The turning point in my life came when, like so many people across the United States, I lost my job. I feel into a deep, dark depression. To escape my utter hopelessness and to be productive, I decided to try writing again. I rewrote an old story that I still believed in, but knew it still needed some major revision. Maybe this was a sign from God to try to get published after all these years. I wrote every day for months, then started query agents and editors again. No luck. More rejections.
I worked part-time and kept writing. I started editing a manuscript that I wrote about nine years ago called, “IMMORTAL ECLIPSE.” I did some freelance developmental editing to pay the rent. Then I was laid off again and after a few months, my unemployment ended. I was scared. No job. No money in my checking account and my savings account had been closed by my bank. Zero funds.
Time to freak out. I was a single mother with two young children to support. But no way to support them. Then I discovered that my seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe and very rare disease. The medical bills began to mount up. I needed money.
In my heart, I still didn’t want to give up on my dream. It was all I had left to encourage me…

Once I gave up the idea of a book deal with a New York publishing house and finding an über agent that loved my work, I decided to look into indie publishers. Then I read about Amanda Hocking’s success story on her blog. I was impressed and awed. She had taken a chance, so I decided to self-publish one of my early novels. Why not? I talked it over with my family—who agreed. I had nothing to lose. And since I was out of a job, I had time to promote my work.
Then some of my family members announced that they wanted to start an online publishing company. And guess what? I was the first to sign with them. Sure, they’re small but everyone has to start somewhere. So, they didn’t mind when I wanted to hire my own cover artist. (Do not be naïve—book covers sell books. Well, that and good writing.)
Going Indie is a scary endeavor. On occasion things don’t work out. Books don’t sell. The genre dead ends. Bad timing. Worse luck.
But indie authors can find a small amount of success due to the book blogging community, which is so incredibly supportive. And I sincerely thank the book reviewers who have embraced and heartily praised my novels.
Although, I may never reach the success of other self-published or indie authors, I won’t look back at my life someday with regret. At least I’ll know I tried, and that’s something, right? You only fail if you never try…
“If you’re waiting for the universe to provide for you, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to wait a long time. If you know what you want, then my advice is to confidently take the necessary steps and go get it.” – Bryan Hutchinson
So, now I need to get back to editing and writing new stories. No reason to let these manuscripts sit on my hard-drive. Maybe someone will enjoy reading them. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll keep dreaming and hoping, and someday those hopes and dreams will come true. Maybe not.
But what good are dreams if you don’t try? What good is trying to follow your heart if it can’t be turned into reality?
Never let someone else put limits on your goals or hinder your own personal dreams. I know, I won’t…

Award-winning author, Sherry Soule currently lives with her family and one very spoiled black cat in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. She writes thrilling tales of romance and suspense, often mingled with a dash of the mystical and a splash of trendy fashion. Her published novels do not include any graphic sex, explicit violence, or excessive profanity, so that all of her novels can be read and enjoyed by both teens and adults. 

Her new book is Lost in Starlight.


Places you can cyberstalk Sherry Soule:
Official Author site:
Twitter - @SherrySoule:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Query Kombat: It's a Wrap

We haven’t been posting lately because we’ve spent the past month taking part in a writing contest called Query Kombat, hosted by three wonderful bloggers/writers, Michelle Hauck, Mike Anthony, and SC, who acted as cheerleaders, mentors,  and therapists for dozens of neurotic writers, no easy task.  

We thought this would be a good time to talk about how much we love contests and why they are great for writers, above and beyond the chance to pitch your book to agents. Although, that part is pretty awesome, too. 

So, here are our favorite things about writing contests, in case you are on the fence about entering one:

  •       It’s helpful to have writing goals, no matter where you are in your journey. Some people like to focus on word count, others on dates. Getting something ready for a contest can help you set your own deadlines. Even if you don’t get into a contest, the prep work is very worthwhile. You can always use the twitter pitch, log lines, and queries in the future.

  • ·         It’s an important skill to get used to receiving criticism graciously and then putting it to good use. And to learn when to go with your gut and ignore something that doesn’t jive for you.

  • ·         Contests help show just how subjective writing can be. There were entries I loved that didn’t make it past the first couple of rounds, and ones that were very well written, but I couldn’t see myself reading because they featured zombies, circuses, or giant snakes (not really, just protecting the innocent ).  It’s just like going to a book store. You can’t take home every single book. Not that I haven’t tried.

  • ·         Participating in an online writing community is a great way to feel like you’re not alone in the scary, sometimes lonely process of writing and querying. Query Kombat has been a fantastically supportive community. We’ve laughed, applauded, and stressed out with writers across the country and received excellent critiques from published authors and agented writers. It’s been an invaluable experience, winning aside.

Speaking of winning… a funny thing happened during the contest. We actually won. The Whole Thing.  How did this happen? How did our strange little YA romance featuring a family of Jewish Bigfoot hunters end up winning?

While we know we’re supposed to avoid rhetorical questions, we can’t answer. There were a ton of talented authors and some fabulously creepy, quirky, and hilarious entries. The final four entries, in particular, were all amazing. We will be the first ones in line to buy them once they are published.

We’re just glad SHALOM SASQUATCH (also known as: SASQUATCH, LOVE, AND OTHER IMAGINARY THINGS) made readers laugh and root for our rag-tag heroine and her Squatch loving family. 

Mostly, we’re grateful to all the judges, agents, hosts, and other contestants for the encouragement, advice, and consideration.

Here are some helpful links for querying writers.

Upcoming contests: 

Blogs about querying that we really like:

Editors extraordinaire who’ve helped us at one point or another: